PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Many wildlife rehabilitation facilities are turning away waterfowl due to the spread of avian flu, leaving some injured birds to face euthanasia in Oregon. 

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said anyone who finds injured ducks and geese may bring them to ODFW offices for euthanasia. 

In a press release, ODFW said waterfowl can carry bird flu without showing symptoms. Accepting them at rehabilitation facilities could put other birds at risk. 

Portland Audubon is one of many facilities currently not accepting waterfowl. 

“The risk of avian flu spreading to other birds in the wildlife rehab clinic is too high,” said Wildlife Care Center manager Stephanie Herman. “We cannot risk the health of other wildlife in our care centers. We are hoping this situation is temporary and normal rehabilitation operations will return by mid-summer. Our goal is to serve all native wild animals in need of help so this is a very sad and difficult situation.” 

Anyone who sees sick or dead wild birds is advised not to collect or handle them. They should report them directly to a local ODFW office or the Wildlife Health Lab. ODFW will be conducting surveillance and collecting and testing sick and dead birds to track the disease. 

Goslings, ducklings and adult waterfowl can all carry the virus. 

ODFW said anyone who sees healthy ducklings or goslings without a parent nearby should leave them alone and allow the parents to find them. Anyone who interferes should release the birds at the nearest waterway. 

“This is the time of year when goslings, ducklings and other young birds are commonly picked up and brought into rehab centers. Well-intentioned people mistakenly think these young birds are orphaned because they may be temporarily separated from their parents,” ODFW wrote in a press release.

Anyone who’d like to bring in an injured bird to be euthanized should call their local ODFW office in advance. 

The department said this year more than ever, it is important to leave wild birds in the wild to give them the best chance for survival. People should also avoid feeding waterfowl at this time. 

In Oregon, avian flu was first detected in wild Canada goose goslings at Alton Baker Park in Eugene. It was also found in several red-tailed hawks in May. While these detections occurred only in Linn and Lane counties, ODFW biologists expect it will spread over the next few weeks

Worldwide, the virus has been documented in more than 100 different species of wild birds since it was first detected in December 2021 in Canada. 

The virus can sicken and even kill many bird species, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Infected birds can shed avian influenza A viruses in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they contact the virus after it is shed by infected. 

Wild birds that carry the virus include waterbirds, shorebirds, and pelicans and cormorants. Dabbling ducks can serve as reservoir hosts for avian influenza A viruses. The disease can infect raptors, like eagles and hawks that prey on or consume sick or dead waterfowl. 

To contact the Wildlife Health lab, call 866-968-2600 or email Wildlife.Health@odfw.oregon.gov