SALT LAKE CITY — The highly pathogenic avian influenza has been detected this spring in many areas in the United States, including Utah.
To be on the safe side, Tracy Aviary has made a few changes to its facility to protect the birds.
“I think we’ve all learned about how viruses spread now so we’re just being super precautious with some of our sensitive birds,” said Tim Brown, the aviary's president.
Two of the aviary's themed exhibits, Kennecott Wetlands and Backyard Bird, have been closed to the public, while the Treasures of the Rainforest exhibit will be allowing access with modified procedures.
“The vast majority of the aviary experience is the same, but if you go to our flamingos for instance, you’ll see they’re netted over to protect them from water foul, mallards in particular”
Brown is more worried about the birds outside of the aviary. Avian influenza is very contagious and highly lethal to chickens.
“It’s much less of a problem for Tracy Aviary and more of a problem in the wild world out there, poultry farms it’s a big issue for them because of the density of their bird population,” said Brown.
Brown, whose been with Tracy Aviary for 18 years, says it could be tragic for the Great Salt Lake.
“As the lake shrinks, the waterfowl using that resource concentrate and so you’d hate for a virus to get exposed. It could be a matter of time, not if it happens but when it happens,” said Brown.
The last time the aviary dealt with HPAI was a couple years ago. Brown said if this bout is anything like the last one, it shouldn’t affect them for more than a few months.
“What we assume will happen is at it gets hotter and drier, so towards June, it will dissipate,” said Brown.
For those that have birds at home, contact a veterinarian if any unusual signs are observed in the flock. These include enlarged bluish combs, swollen heads, apparent bruising on the shanks, nervous symptoms such as stargazing, or sudden death.