Skip to main content

A flock of snow geese on Jan. 20, 2022. Agriculture officials say a highly pathogenic type of bird flu was detected in a wild snow goose.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Poultry farmers in Saskatchewan – particularly ones with small flocks – are being encouraged to keep their birds indoors after agriculture officials say a highly pathogenic type of bird flu was detected in a goose.

The province says in a news release that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the H5 strain of avian influenza was detected in a wild snow goose that was found near Elrose, a community about 250 kilometres northwest of Regina.

The news release says small flocks are considered high risk for highly pathogenic avian influenza because they are commonly allowed access to outdoor pens or are free range.

It says that means there’s a high probability of contact with wild birds or areas visited by wild birds that may be contaminated with the virus.

Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry says the last time highly pathogenic avian influenza was found in the province in either commercial poultry or wild birds was in 2007.

Small flock owners are encouraged to confine their birds indoors if at all possible during this high-risk period of wild bird migration, the ministry says.

“Typically, strains of avian flu do not cause obvious signs of disease in wild birds. However, this H5 strain has resulted in deaths in some species of wild birds, including snow geese and Canada geese, as well as some raptors,” the ministry’s news release states.

The CFIA says avian influenza is not a significant public health concern for healthy people who are not in regular contact with infected birds.

The agency announced late last week that bird flu was also found in Alberta poultry flocks and that there were some new cases in Ontario.

It said Sunday that it had also been confirmed in two additional Alberta poultry flocks in Paintearth County and Kneehill County.

Bird flu cases in poultry and non-poultry flocks have previously been reported in recent months in Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.