Avian cholera kills fewer birds in Nunavut, Nunavik
'There are birds that are dying each year, but it's measured in the 10s rather than the 1,000s'
A disease that once ravaged bird populations in the Eastern Arctic is now killing fewer birds in Nunavut and Nunavik.
The effects of the deadly bacteria were first observed by Inuit in 2004. Infected birds were dying by the thousands, sometimes within hours of becoming infected. Common eider ducks were hit especially hard.
Grant Gilchrist, a research scientist with Environment Canada, says the number of deaths seems to be lessening.
Researches aren't sure what has caused the birds' new found resiliency.
Gilchrist says the bacteria may have changed, or the birds may have developed a resistance to it.
"This follows actually the established theory of how a disease enters a population that's never been exposed to it before. There's a plague that kills many, many birds but the survivors are more robust."
Avian cholera is still present in Southampton Island and around Ungava Bay.
Scientists have been concerned the illness may spread to Greenland, but so far that has not happened.
However, Environment Canada and hunters are continuing to monitor eider duck populations.