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Environment and Outdoors

Avian flu detected in 2 bald eagles in Maine

Eagle Survey
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
In this May 10, 2012 file photo, A bald eagle takes flight on a rainy morning in Friendship, Maine.

Two bald eagles in Maine have tested positive for avian flu.

Brad Allen, a biologist with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says one of the eagles tumbled out of the sky in York County. The other was rescued from the Sheepscot River in Lincoln County, but was later euthanized.

"Bald eagles are kind of the canary in the coal mine for avian influenza. They seem to be extremely sensitive to this virus," he says.

Even so, Allen says Maine's eagle population is robust, and he expects the virus will become less prevalent in warmer months.

Avian influenza has also been detected in nearly three dozen states and in about a dozen backyard flocks across six Maine counties.

Officials say the disease is being spread by migrating wild birds and owners of backyard and commercial flocks should keep birds inside. Allen says backyard flock owners should make sure their birds can't interact with wild birds, especially water fowl.

The disease is not considered a health risk to humans.