Avian Cholera kills Thunder Bay turkeys

The mystery behind the deaths of some turkeys in the Mountain Road area seems to have been solved with the help of a wildlife pathologist.

Expert says deadly bacteria responsible for death of turkeys in Mountain Road area

A group of turkeys thought to be wild, like the one pictured here, was found dead. Concerned residents in the area thought the birds were poisoned. (CBC file photo)

The mystery behind the deaths of some turkeys in the Mountain Road area seems to have been solved with the help of a wildlife pathologist.

After a handful of turkeys suddenly died, some neighbours in the area were concerned the birds were poisoned.

But a Guelph pathologist with the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre who looked at the dead birds said the turkeys had bacteria called Avian Cholera.

"We have very rarely seen infections with this bacterium in wild birds here in Ontario," Doug Campbell said.

"You know, I've probably seen a handful of cases."

The bacteria can be spread to other birds, or introduced by a bite from another animal, such as a cat.

The Ministry of Natural Resources said the likely reason the birds had the bacteria was because they were once in captivity.

It's illegal to keep wild turkeys without a permit, a ministry spokesperson said.

"Raised birds may introduce diseases into the wild birds and compete with wild birds for resources, or interbreed with wild birds," Michelle Nowak said.

"Wild turkeys cannot be kept in captivity or released without authorization of the Ministry of Natural Resources."

She noted the type of turkey that died isn't found in the wild in this region.

Avian Cholera is not a health hazard for humans.

Campbell said the bacteria is rarely found in Ontario, and that it's more prevalent at poultry farms and in waterfowl.