No one knows why the crows are dying in a Charlottetown park, scientists called in
It was during the holiday break that something awful started happening to the crows that frequent Victoria Park in downtown Charlottetown.
Since then, local residents have found more than 200 dead or desperately ill birds. Scientists at the nearby Atlantic Veterinary College haven't been able to figure out what is going on.
"It was pretty gruesome," Maryrose Carson, who lives two blocks from the waterfront park, said Tuesday as she recalled finding dozens of dead birds on Jan. 1. "We had no idea what had caused it."
The college has ruled out avian flu or a bacterial infection, and there has been speculation that a so-called reovirus is to blame -- a theory that is being subjected to laboratory testing, Carson said.
There's also concern that whatever is killing the birds could spread to other wildlife or domesticated animals, which is why the college is pressing for answers before the end of the week. A spokeswoman for the college declined to comment until the results are in.
A flock of 25,000 birds roosts in the park every night in the fall and winter, prompting an annual outpouring of complaints about the constant squawking and defecating.
When the birds swarm over the area at this time of year, the cacophony can be deafening as the sky turns black with beating wings, like a scene from a horror movie.
As a result, Carson said she's worried the coal-coloured birds are being poisoned.
"I do understand the frustration," she said. "If you walk in the Brighton Road area -- especially when they are roosting -- I don't think there is a clean spot on the sidewalk."
Though poison is a theory, Carson was quick to note that it appears no other animals in the area have been affected.
She said it's heartbreaking to see the sickly birds in the park.
"They're very lethargic. If they do try to get away from you, they try to hop," she said. "They might fly a couple of feet in the air, but then they're down on the ground and very docile. Even when you're holding them, they're not really fighting."
Local residents are being warned not to handle any dead birds or approach any that appear ill. The City of Charlottetown is responsible for disposing of the dead birds, while the college is taking in ill animals for treatment.
Two years ago, bird lovers in the city were outraged when somebody shot three crows with a pellet gun during a five-week span. The shootings prompted a "rally for caws," with about 15 people marching to demand the birds be left alone.
At one point, the city's website recognized that residents had developed a "love-hate relationship" with their avian neighbours, which have been calling the park home for more than 100 years.
In 2006, the city decided complaints about the noise and the droppings had reached a point where action had to be taken.
"They're filthy, dirty, rotten things," one resident said at the time. "You get up in the morning and the sidewalks are white. The cars are white. I don't sit in the backyard anymore." After calling for proposals, the city spent $15,000 on noisemakers to scare the birds away.
It didn't work.
Since then, the city has decided to live with the birds, but the complaints keep coming.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2022.
Atlantic Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Lifeline for woman with disabilities approved for medically assisted death after 'mind-blowing, inspiring' support
A 31-year-old disabled Toronto woman who was conditionally approved for a medically assisted death after a fruitless bid for safe housing says her life has been 'changed' by an outpouring of support after telling her story.
The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting is the chief of the school system's small police force, a unit dedicated ordinarily to building relationships with students and responding to the occasional fight.
Russia asserted Saturday that its troops and separatist fighters had captured a key railway junction in eastern Ukraine, the second small city to fall to Moscow's forces this week as they fought to seize all of the country's contested Donbas region.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos was met with justifiable criticisms and unfounded conspiracy theories.
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown says calling social conservatives 'dinosaurs' in a book he wrote about his time in Ontario politics was 'the wrong terminology.'
Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn't exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling allowing the Quebec City mosque shooter to be eligible for parole after 25 years is raising concern for more than a dozen similar cases.
A seven-person civil jury in Virginia will resume deliberations Tuesday in Johnny Depp's libel trial against Amber Heard. What the jury considers will be very different from the public debate that has engulfed the high-profile proceedings.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
A 21-year-old Toronto man is facing a slew of charges following a suspected hate-motivated incident at a Jewish school in North York.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
A southern Alberta man who killed three people, including a two-year-old girl, could have the ability to request a release from jail earlier than his original sentence intended, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court decision Friday.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Western Canada's premiers want to reform their health-care systems by expanding services but they say Ottawa first needs to pick up the phone.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
A man in his 80s is fighting for his life after being pulled out of the St. Lawrence River by a fellow resident who saw his vehicle had become submerged.
A large ship carrying chemical products ran aground during its passage through the St. Lawrence Seaway early Friday morning, backing up maritime traffic as tugboats tried to dislodge it.
A hotly-controversial decision on whether or not to freeze base funding for police in Edmonton was delayed Friday as fallout from a dispute between the mayor and the provincial justice minister continued to rattle political circles.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
A shelter many expected to remain open until the end of June in Wetaskiwin, Alta., will close a month early.
Thursday evening, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th annual Bell Business Excellence Awards.
On Friday, there was a walk in Sudbury to remember the remains of 215 residential schoolchildren found in Kamloops, B.C., a year ago May 27.
Staff at the new Sault Metis Centre are getting set for the grand opening Saturday.
Saturday’s powerful storm left a lasting impact across Ontario as city crews continue to deal with the damage. Western University’s Northern Tornado Project reported that two EF-1 tornadoes touched down in London — and on Friday, Environment Canada confirmed it.
A London man is facing impaired-related charges after a vehicle he was driving collided with a gravel truck on Wednesday morning, according to police.
The London Police Service is requesting the public’s help with locating a person of interest after a gun was fired on Richmond Row in the early morning hours of Friday.
Pembina Trails School Division is confirming to CTV News that a group of students found a body during community cleanup at Ècole South Pointe School.
Winnipeg police are telling people to find an alternate route this afternoon as they are investigating a fatal crash near the St. Boniface Industrial Park.
'It's one way to be creative': Winnipeg student wants to be a bartender when older; school doesn't like comment in yearbook
Bartender. That is what one Grade 4 student said for the yearbook when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, an answer the school is asking him to change.
Hydro Ottawa is not committing to a new deadline to restore power to thousands of customers, one week after a devastating storm with wind gusts of 190 km/h hit Ottawa.
A Hydro One spokesperson says some people living in remote parts of rural eastern Ontario could be waiting weeks to have power restored after last Saturday’s devastating and deadly storm.
It's the first in-person Ottawa Race Weekend in Ottawa since 2019, after the 2020 and 2021 events were shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barrett Ross says his dog Indy suffered a punctured bowel, lost a tooth and had his stomach injured when he was attacked by three other dogs.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council's (STC) temporary downtown shelter has been granted an extension to operate at its present location until April 2023 — but Tribal Chief Mark Arcand hopes to relocate well before then.
A pedestrian injured by a vehicle in Prince Albert has died.
A B.C. mom with a rare, debilitating illness has spent years trying to get the help she needs. Now she's considering medical assistance in dying.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals hit its lowest point in more than a month this week, and the decline was driven largely by regions outside the Lower Mainland.
Researchers working in partnership with UBC believe an eco-friendly material could help solve the world’s plastic pollution problem.
Cyber security attacks happen every day, and as Regina Public Schools division discovered this week, no one is safe.
'Very upset': Senior housing residents plead for Sask. Housing Corporation to rebuild after winter fire
Former residents of a Carievale seniors housing complex want the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) to reconsider its decision to demolish the home.
Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.
B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
The emergency department at Port McNeill Hospital unexpectedly shut down on Friday evening due to a staffing shortage.
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.