Denver health officials warn residents to stay away from sick, dead birds

Denver health leaders are warning people to stay away from sick or dead birds in city parks.

According to the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, the city has received an increase in calls about dead waterfowl in parks, including Town Center Park at Green Valley Ranch, City Park and Washington Park, potentially related to the avian flu impacting birds across the state.

Stefanie Schneider walks her dog Piper in City Park daily and sees a diverse array of species in the park. But lately, she’s noticed something odd.

“There have been some dead geese, either on the ice, on the lake or sometimes you’ll see them in the grassy areas,” Schneider said.

The dead animals are mostly geese. Health officials are urging people not to touch them and call 311 instead. People should also avoid birds that show signs of sickness.

If you find a dead bird on private property, you can dispose of it, but avoid direct contact with the remains.

“Some of the symptoms look like disorientation of birds, so head tilt, wandering around, they don’t quite look with it,” said Shannon Schaller, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s northeast region deputy regional manager.

CPW has been tracking the Avian Flu since the fall of 2022. The outbreak began on the Eastern Plains but has since spread to most cities around the Metro Area and state, Schaller said.

At this point, waterfowl are the most affected, and mortality is high.

“As birds start to move around and they migrate, this disease moves around on the landscape, Schaller said. “On the Front Range where you have water bodies where geese and ducks congregate, that’s where we’re seeing a high number of mortality right now.”

While transmission in humans is low, it’s critical people don’t touch sick or dead geese, especially if they have birds at home, Schaller said.

“We’re learning as we go, and so you could potentially be putting yourself at risk that’s unnecessary by handling sick or dead birds,” she said. “If you have pets, you may be spreading it. When I am talking about pets I am talking about domestic poultry at home.”

CPW is building a database to track the avian flu’s spread across the state. People should call their local office if they see multiple dead or sick birds.

“We don’t expect it to go away anytime soon,” Schaller said.

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