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Birds of Prey investigation to be completed this month

Posted on July 16, 2019 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

Results of the bird deaths at the Birds of Prey Centre will be presented to council later this month.

During their regular July 8 meeting, Coaldale town council received an update on the investigation into the bird deaths at the Birds of Prey Centre last year.

In late August 2018, staff at the Birds of Prey Centre discovered birds were getting sick. Over the course of the next month, 15 of their most high profile birds died.

Due to the symptoms the birds exhibited and the cluster of bird deaths, staff at the centre determined the cause was West Nile Virus, although this would need to be confirmed by lab testing.

As there were stagnant pools of water in place of a wetland drained during the Malloy Basin construction, they believed this was where the mosquitoes carrying the virus originated from.

The town was informed of the outbreak, asked that the centre clarify their language — in that that they suspected it was West Nile Virus until test results confirmed that it was West Nile in their communications to the public on the matter — and filled the ponds with running water.

The test results came back positive for WNV in November 2018, and the centre announced the discovery in late December. In response, the town called for an investigation into the bird deaths.

At council’s regular April 8 meeting, it was announced that the town had retained Solstice Environmental Management to conduct a review of the events contributing to the bird deaths at the centre, as well as performing an assessment on how to best manage WNV in Coaldale and the surrounding areas.

The full report was due to be submitted to council for review by the end of June 2019.

However, town CAO Kalen Hastings told council that Solstice was still waiting on some additional information, and the estimated completion date had been pushed back.

“The primary reason for delay is the investigators are still waiting on additional information external to the organization. There is, however, a high degree of confidence that the report will be fully complete by the end of July 2019. In fact, I’m being told July 17 is the completion date,” said Hastings.

As the dealing has been pushed back a month, Hastings informed council that town administration has been in contact with the centre regarding the water levels of the ponds they lease from the Town.

The centre has opened the water valve that connects the town’s west stormwater pond to the ponds located within the centre, and, as of the date of the report, water is running through the small ponds that the centre leases from the town.

Additionally, there is no evidence of stagnation within any of the stormwater ponds located on the northwest portion of Coaldale.

To allow them to “close the loop” before fall, Hastings asked if council was willing to hold a special meeting before the end of the month in order for the report to be brought to council.

Council unanimously passed motions to receive the update for information, and to hold a special council meeting on July 29 at 5 p.m. in council chambers. Coun. Bill Chapman was absent from the meeting during council’s discussion and vote.

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