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2 dogs in Haida Gwaii sick after eating meat from decaying humpback whale

DFO warns people to not ingest meat or let animals eat meat of dead marine animals

Two dogs are severely sick after eating meat from a decaying humpback whale carcass, which was first spotted in Masset Inlet Nov. 5, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) stated Nov. 16.

The pets are believed to have botulism from eating the marine mammal, DFO fishery officer Chase Edwards said.

Larenia Woode is one of the dog owners. Her dog ate meat from the whale last Saturday, Nov. 12. By the morning of Nov. 15, she said her pooch could not lift her head or wag her tail. There has been some improvement and she was able to lift her head Nov. 16, but the vet warned that she is not out of danger yet.

“There is no cure for botulism,” Woode said. All the vet can do is administer an IV.

DFO secured the dead humpback whale on a beach just south of Masset in order to conduct a necropsy on Nov. 9.

While the animal’s body is in a location that is accessible to the public, DFO warns the public not to handle any dead carcasses and not to let animals near it as it is in the process of putrefying.

“Keep your dogs on a leash if you’re going to go down and look at the whale, or maybe leave them in the truck,” Edwards said.

In addition to concerns of botulism, marine mammal meat and blubber can contain high levels of toxins and heavy metals, the DFO stated.

Any member of the public who has ingested meat or had an animal that ingested meat from the humpback whale is asked to call the Haida Gwaii fishery officers at 250-559-8532 in Daajing Giids or 250-626-3316 in Masset.

Preliminary results from the necropsy on this whale show that it experienced blunt force trauma, suggesting it was possibly hit by a vessel. However, the actual cause of death cannot be concluded until the full results come back, a spokesperson for the DFO stated in an email to the Black Press Media.

More recently, a second dead humpback whale was spotted from the shores of East Beach in Naikoon Provincial Park on Haida Gwaii. The body of this whale was more deteriorated than the first but still fairly intact, Edwards said.

This new dead whale marks the fourth dead humpback seen in B.C.’s coastal waters in less than a month, Jackie Hildering, a humpback whale researcher at the Marine Education and Research Society stated.

A partial necropsy was conducted on Nov. 15 which included taking blubber and baleen samples as well as a number of measurements. These samples as well as the ones from the first necropsy have been sent to Vancouver for analysis.

DFO encourages the public to call the marine mammal incident reporting hotline at 1-800-465-4336 to report any sightings of dead, injured or distressed whales.

READ MORE: Dead humpback whale found near Masset marks third in less than a month

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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