Image copyright AP Image caption A wild boar in Quebec
The future of wild animals in Quebec’s capital is being kept in the balance as the province’s political parties have not agreed on a solution for an outbreak of a deadly bird flu.
H5N1, the strain that causes bird flu, is believed to have been contracted by zoo birds and is causing a large outbreak in the province.
It’s believed to have wiped out around 60 wild turkeys at a mall in Westmount.
In a post on its Facebook page on Friday, the Montreal zoo appealed to the public to help it find a vaccine for the virus.
“We have not raised the possibility of vaccinating wild animals in Quebec because of several assumptions,” wrote Steve Simmons, the zoo’s chief executive.
The messages continued: “First, wild animals cannot accept vaccination. Second, the vaccine will only be usable at lower temperatures (say freezing).
“Third, the cost of implementing vaccinations would not be negligible, and last but not least, wild animals are not in a breeding mode.
“If you live within a kilometre of the zoo, don’t drive anyhow!”
A series of vaccination clinics are planned for the coming weeks and the zoo said it “cannot guarantee availability or effectiveness”.
The plan announced by the zoo on Friday included abandoning the usual rabies vaccinations for all zoo animals, but Mr Simmons said the special rabies shots would be administered for only wild animals.
The zoo said the moves would allow it to better deal with the fatal bird flu.
Wild birds are especially vulnerable to bird flu viruses, but the risk to humans is low.
The Montreal zoo believes it’s been hit hard by the virus because of a close proximity to a mall.
It’s not clear what kind of bird flu it is, but both H5N1 and H7N9, a second type of bird flu virus, have killed people in the past.
The worst outbreak of H5N1 happened in 2013 and also led to the death of 22 people.
Most of the people who caught the virus from birds were unvaccinated.
The first human infections were in China, where 74 people died of the virus between 2003 and 2012. Most of those had received vaccination, officials have said.
The World Health Organization estimates that around 660 million people worldwide have been infected with bird flu.