OTTAWA, Ontario – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is urging bird owners to practice avian biosecurity measures as the fall wild bird migration gets underway. The agency is trying to prevent a re-emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

In Canada, an HPAI outbreak that began in 2014 led to the depopulation of approximately 250,000 birds. The virus was found in three commercial flocks in Ontario in addition to 11 commercial and two backyard flocks in British Columbia.

The agency said biosecurity is the first defense against avian disease, and the agency is advising bird owners to prevent contact with wild birds and other animals, isolate new birds and sick birds and limit contact with visitors, among other measures.

Additionally, a wild bird survey is part of CFIA’s prevention strategy. The Inter-Agency Wild Bird Influenza Survey was developed to detect avian influenza viruses that could threaten domestic poultry flocks and human health. CFIA notifies poultry producers if a virus of concern is uncovered in wild birds in a location close to a poultry flock.