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Wildlife center takes precautions with Avian Flu on the rise

Employees at Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center are concerned about their birds now that avian flu is spreading in the northeast.

STROUD TOWNSHIP, PA — The Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Stroud Township is a place where injured and orphaned wild animals are cared for and nurtured back to health before being released into the wild.

But the center director says accepting new animals, specifically birds, will be a challenge, now that the new Avian Influenza, also known as H5N1, was recently detected on the East Coast.

"We have to proceed very, very carefully, balancing the needs of our permanent education residents, the animals that are already in our care with ones that are coming in and that need care. Since we cover nine counties, it's not like we can just pass this off to somebody else," said Kathy Uhler, the director at Pocono Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center.

Avian Flu doesn't infect people, but it is very contagious and deadly in wild birds and commercial and domestic poultry.

Uhler says she was contacted by the game commission, who is recommending that she not take in any new birds onsite, which is why she is looking for a small house or cottage to rent, nearby the center, to house incoming birds.

"This is new and was not really set up to separate animals that way," Uhler said. "So that's why we're kind of hoping to find a separate spot just to do birds and the rest of the animals, so we don't have to say no."

Employees say they have to be careful of what birds they take in because if they are infected, they can pass it on to the birds they have.

"If they have the virus in them and it's possible for them to have the virus and not show symptoms, so we can't expose any new birds to birds that are already here," Uhler said.

Uhler is accepting donations of disposable shoe booties, gloves, and gowns, to throw away after every encounter with one of their birds, so none of them get sick. 

If you would like to help, you can order items off of their Amazon wishlist or call the center at (570) 402-0223.

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