HENRY COUNTY, GA. – Hundreds of vultures are dead at an animal shelter in Henry County.
Georgia Department of Agriculture officials believe bird flu is to blame.
In a statement, the department wrote:
“We can confirm that at least one of the deceased vultures has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza based on preliminary testing. We are confirming the state results with federal labs. We expect the results tonight. Although avian influenza poses a significant risk to our domestic filth the risk to pets, livestock and people remains very low.”
Officials have confirmed to FOX 5 that they have taken control of the facility.
An investigation is now underway into the cause of the deaths.
FOX 5 recently addressed pending complaints and security issues at Noah’s Ark.
The animal shelter responded to the latest incident with a statement released Monday night that reads:
“Because our Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary care team provides a safe and healthy environment for our animals, it is standard practice to work with state and federal officials. Our number 1 priority is the safety and health of animals and our community.
“Over the past six months, Noah’s Ark has added more animal care staff than ever before and tripled the number of vets who consult with our staff and treat animals.
“On Saturday 8/13/22, our professional team members noticed an unusual number of dead wild black vultures on the property. Out of concern, we notified state authorities the same day and they conducted an assessment and collected samples, which they sent to the Noah’s Ark took immediate biosecurity measures and has been in close contact with state officials on a daily basis ever since. The risk of human contamination from bird flu is very low.
“Since 8-8, Noah’s Ark has been working with local, federal, and state agencies—Georgia Department of Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, and Department of Natural Resources—to manage and contain the situation. All three agencies have since been deployed. 8/13 in an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of the animals and people at Noah’s Ark and the protection of the community in general.
“On 8/20/22, the state announced Noah’s Ark that the first tests have revealed Avian Influenza (HPAI) which is found in 45 states and is carried by wild birds, but can also be transmitted to poultry and waterfowl (source APHIS.usda.gov This is a natural disease event.
“We have been quarantined by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. As a natural disease event, the site needs to be contained, cleaned and then decontaminated/disinfected. We are in the contained phase. But our State Agency partners are and will be lead clearance and decontamination They will lead to complete elimination of vultures and removal of roosts and sanitation facilities.
“It was an unusually large abode for vultures that had developed in recent years. The vulture population is still dying out as the disease runs its course. Government agencies are leading the cleanup and removal and will have accurate accounts in the coming days.
“None of the parrots or exotic birds in our care have shown any signs of illness.
“Noah’s Ark has been and will continue to work closely with state authorities as they are in charge of managing it. As a precaution, affected birds are being depopulated on the property. Officials are monitoring other birds in the surveillance area and no other birds are showing any clinical symptoms.
“Understandably, we will remain closed to the public during the response. We appreciate the timely and professional response from our state and federal officials. Noah’s Ark is committed to the safety and health of its people, animals and community. We are diligently looking for quick fixes and will continue to provide updates as they develop.”