Just as we began to feel a sense of relief that the pandemic was winding down, we now face a new threat that is harder to control than covid and threatens every bird at Hawk Creek - Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. Avian flu has already reached 24 states in just two months and has been detected only 65 miles from Hawk Creek Wildlife Center. Almost 23 million birds nationwide have died so far, as the disease has a 90-100% mortality rate in raptors. This disease spreads through the droppings of wild birds, and spring migration is accelerating how quickly new areas are being exposed. We cannot simply tell wild birds to fly around the Center and not over it, we must take action.
What we’re doing
We have already begun taking precautions to prevent our birds from becoming infected through increased biosecurity protocols and eliminating resources that attract wild birds. Still, more protection is needed as the virus continues to move. We are one of the largest raptor facilities in the Eastern United States and care for 55 birds, including rare and endangered species. Raptors, along with poultry and waterfowl, are one of the groups most susceptible to the avian flu.
Many zoos and wildlife centers across the country are making the difficult decision to bring their birds inside or close certain exhibits until this wave of the avian flu passes. Due to the nature of our facility, that isn’t possible. The majority of our birds are well adapted to Buffalo’s climate and live outside year-round, so our bird habitats were specifically constructed to be spacious and open. This means we now need to quickly construct indoor housing for some of our birds and modify other exhibits to ensure wild birds and their droppings cannot get in while maintaining the quality of life for birds under our care.
Examples of modifications underway include covering the tops of enclosures, custom coverings for the front of enclosures that can be opened during supervised times, and construction of indoor facilities. These materials will continue to be useful in the future if there is another surge of the avian flu or west nile and create additional shelter for our animals during extreme weather events that are becoming more common with climate change.
What we need
Unfortunately, this is happening at a time when construction material costs are incredibly high. We anticipate the cost of materials alone for this project to start at $15,000.
The faster we act, the safer our birds are. After speaking with our veterinarian and other experts across the country, we know what we need to do to keep our birds safe and healthy so they can continue to help us educate and inspire over a million people annually.
100% of contributions will go directly to the cost of these vital exhibit modifications related to the bird flu. We are so grateful for our incredibly supportive community and any donations or sharing would be appreciated from the bottom of our hearts as we work tirelessly to protect these amazing animals.