Avian flu brings reminder not to feed ducks at Bellefonte's Talleyrand Park
BELLEFONTE — A handful of ducks at Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte tested positive for a low pathogen avian influenza following a survey completed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Borough manager Ralph Stewart said the strain poses no health threat to humans.
“The USDA came in and conducted tests earlier this year on 21 ducks from Talleyrand Park,” said Stewart. “A couple of them tested positive for a bird flu that doesn’t have a negative effect on people, but it could affect domesticated chickens and turkeys. So, we’re again stressing to the public to not feed the ducks in Talleyrand Park.”
According to Stewart, Bellefonte Borough Council is worried people feeding the ducks may come in contact with the bird flu bacteria, and in turn, transport the bacteria back home, where it could possibly infect domestic poultry animals.
“Council approved putting up signs in the park to discourage feeding the ducks,” said Ralph. “We’re also going to receive signs from the USDA explaining the reasons not to feed wildlife and the consequences doing so has on the environment. The signs will also be a good tool for us to educate the visiting public.”
Stewart said Bellefonte Borough Council members have always discouraged feeding the ducks in the park.
“It’s very unhealthy to give human food to wild animals,” said Stewart. “And now, with a few birds testing positive for bird flu, it’s just another good reason for people to stay away from the ducks and just enjoy them from a distance.”
Those caught offering a slice of bread or a cracker to one of Talleyrand’s feathered guests might not be fined, or thrown in the clink; however, Stewart said if a local police officer or a borough official sees someone in the act, a lengthy lecture may ensue.
Stewart said 50 to 75 ducks can be found in Talleyrand Park at any given time. He said it is also frequented by Canada geese, but said he has no knowledge if this species has been tested for the same problem.
“The main thing to remember here is this bird flu is not a threat to the health of humans, but it could affect animals, specifically poultry, at home,” he said.