Seabird and Waterfowl Sampling Program for Avian Influenza
NCC’s Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) team is conducting sampling for Avian Influenza this year in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada. ENR staff would like to work with our members who plan to go on a bird hunt, and take samples from the birds. We will come to you if you are willing to have your harvest tested for Avian Influenza. This is completely voluntary and optional.
How will my participation help?
By sampling for Avian Influenza, we will learn what percentage of birds harvested in NunatuKavut are currently carrying the virus and/or have been exposed to the virus in the past (depending on the type of sample taken). This will assist in our monitoring of this avian pandemic as we continue into the future with monitoring and managing our traditionally and culturally important game bird species, such as Turrs, Common Eiders, Canada Geese and more.
What type of sampling are you doing?
There are two different types of sampling that can occur depending on how fresh the harvested bird is:
- Blood sampling. If the bird is extremely fresh and the blood has yet to clot, this sampling will show if the bird has Avian Influenza antibodies in its system or not. In other words, this test will show if the bird had been exposed to Avian Influenza in the past and survived, and built up a natural immunity to the virus.
- Swab sampling. This can be done with a slightly older, less fresh bird. We swab the bird’s mouth, and the bird’s cloaca (anus) to test if it is currently carrying the Avian Influenza virus.
Are the test results instant?
The test results will not be instantaneous and will take a couple of months to be shipped, processed and analysed before we get answers. We will most likely not get individual bird sample results back, but more so percentages – in other words, results could show:
- percentage from the Cartwright (or other) area,
- percentage of the total birds sampled; or,
- percentage that tested positive for Avian Influenza in a specific species, such as Common Eiders.
This will give us an idea of the prevalence of the virus in the wild bird populations that gather in NunatuKavut.
Why is this important to us?
Avian Influenza has devastated a large number of coastal bird populations in the past couple of years, and while large scale outbreaks are no longer occurring at alarming rates, the virus is still circulating within the wild bird populations. Your collaboration with us as we monitor our bird populations will help us to anticipate changes going forward that might impact our bird populations – which are important to our culture and food security as NunatuKavut Inuit.
Who can I contact?
NCC Wildlife Stewardship Technician
T: (709) 960-0407