Why thousands of birds have died at an Israeli wetland with a Canadian connection

An avian flu outbreak has led to the deaths of thousands of cranes at Israel's Hula Valley. (Photo courtesy the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel/Facebook)

Two years ago, Israeli officials opened the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitors and Education Center—a building named after the former Canadian prime minister, who personally donated to and supported the centre. Funded in large part by Canadian philanthropists, the centre is the educational arm of a protected wetland area in the Upper Galilee and an important stopover for 500 million migratory birds.

But this year, a tragic outbreak has threatened the area’s viability, forcing Israeli authorities to close the site for the foreseeable future. After what officials are calling the country’s worst biodiversity event, an outbreak of avian flu has led to the deaths of up to 8,000 common cranes that usually winter in the park.

Israelis have been cleaning up the dead bird carcasses for study and incineration, hoping to better understand the risk and prevent another outbreak in the future. Yoav Perlman of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel joins to discuss the event and his group’s plans for the future.

What we talked about:

  • Follow the park’s updates at facebook.com/AgamonKKL
  • Read “The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel aims to revitalize wetlands” at thecjn.ca


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