Skip to content

Lab tests pending after dozens of dead birds seen in Chilliwack Park

Animal control, FVRD staff were ‘collecting and disposing of carcasses,’ says city rep
Canada geese are seen at Sardis Park on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Residents who live near Sardis Park in Chilliwack are reporting that dead geese and other waterfowl were being fished out of the pond again.

Testing in government labs will confirm if it’s an active avian influenza outbreak of the wild birds as suspected – or not.

Animal control and Fraser Valley Regional District personnel were “collecting and disposing of carcasses,” at the park last weekend, said Jamie Leggatt, of City of Chilliwack director of communications.

Samples went to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food for analysis.

“They have not confirmed that the cause is avian flu, but given the increase of infected flocks throughout the region, it seems to be a possibility,” Leggatt said.

Last November at this time there was a similar avian flu outbreak in wild birds, and it was a confirmed that it was killing Canada geese and ducks.

Longtime Sardis Park resident Anne Dickey snapped a photo of dead birds being fished out of the pond in November 2022, and came by The Chilliwack Progress office to report more deceased birds at Sardis Park are piling up every day.

”It’s just so sad to see them all dead,” she said.

The resident saw a couple of kids fishing in the pond over the weekend, others walking about as usual.

Workers had to remove carcasses that other creatures like crows had begun pecking at, which created grisly scenes at the park, and Dickey said she noticed very few dog walkers out in the park, possibly avoiding the dead birds.

RELATED - ‘We’ve been expecting this’

RELATED: 2022 Sardis Park saw confirmed AI outbreak

Resident John Van contacted The Progress to say he saw dozens of ducks and geese dying at Sardis Park.

He wondered why the park was not closed and was concerned about kids and animals walking through a “potential biohazard or poisoning,” since there was no official word yet on what was killing the waterfowl.

Officials say the risk of avian influenza spreading to people and companion animals (such as dogs and cats) is considered “low.”

The provincial ministry recommended these precautionary steps last year after the outbreak was confirmed:

• Stay away from the park if you have contact with poultry or birds;

• Keep pets leashed when in the park and away from waterfowl habitat, water and areas contaminated by bird droppings;

• Clean, and dry footwear and pet’s paws and fur after visiting the park;

• Do not touch, pick up, or allow your pet contact with dead bird carcasses.

The ‘wild bird mortality’ hotline is 1-866-431-2473, to report dead wild birds and seabirds.

Signage for avian influenza is seen at the entrance to Sardis Park on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Canada geese take off from the pond at Sardis Park on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Last year this time a worker removes dead geese from Sardis Pond in Chilliwack on Nov. 23, 2022. (Anne Dickey file photo)

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
Read more