SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ (PIX11) — Residents and poultry farmers were in high alert in New Jersey after more than 100 vultures were found dead along a hiking trail in Sussex County.
State officials confirmed the birds, found along a popular trail in Lafayette, were victims of the avian influenza, also known as highly pathogenic bird flu. A good portion of the trail was closed Monday.
The vultures died earlier in the month and are in an extreme state of decomposition, according to the Department of Environmental Protection. They were left to decompose on site because rough terrain caused accessibility issues. There also wasn’t enough personnel in the state certified to handle infected birds.
Giselle Smisko, who runs the Avian Wildlife Center in nearby Wantage, has been fielding a number of calls from concerned locals. She insists there’s nothing to be overly concerned with, as transmission to humans is very rare.
“People are concerned that this is the new pandemic, which it is not for people, thankfully, but it is a big problem for birds,” Smisko said.
Those who come across any dead birds or birds they suspect have been exposed to avian influenza are urged to call the state Department of Agriculture as soon as possible.