The DEP is aware of over 100 black vulture deaths that have been occurring since early August off the Sussex Branch Trail in Lafayette, Sussex County, New Jersey. USDA has confirmed the cause as Avian Influenza (bird flu).
This is a phenomenon that has been observed in many states along the East Coast. Black vultures are seemingly very susceptible to Avian Influenza, and they tend to scavenge the carcasses of dead vultures, which can prolong the duration of a local outbreak such as the one being seen in Sussex County. The birds have been left to decompose on site due to rough terrain causing accessibility issues and a lack of personnel in the State certified to handle infected birds. Improper handling can lead to further spread of disease.
The risk of avian influenza being transmitted to people is extremely low. The New Jersey Department of Agriculture and NJ DEP Fish and Wildlife are monitoring the situation. For questions regarding poultry please contact NJ Department of Agriculture ((609) 671-6400).