It appears avian flu has made its way to Frank Lake.

Local bird biologist Greg Wagner says about 20 dead and dying birds, including more than a half dozen pelicans, have been found at the lake east of High River.

"In addition we've had reports and I have seen about five dead skunks and it looks like the disease, we haven't confirmed this yet but we do have that animal in for testing, this might be passing on to the skunks, obviously if they find a dead animal they'll be scavenging on it and it may be passed on that way so we're a little concerned about the dead skunks we're finding," said Wagner.

He says some of the the birds have been sent for testing to confirm it was avian flu that killed them.

"Right now Alberta Environment and Parks has a huge backlog of birds so we're not testing anymore, what we're seeing at Frank Lake is more or less shown at most wetlands in southern and central Alberta right now so they're quite convinced that its avian flu that's going on and they really need more of a backlog of information," he says. "I know they were interested in the pelicans because this was one of the first places where dead pelicans were seen but they have seen it in other lakes as well."

He says in eastern North America, where waterfowl migration is a couple weeks ahead of the migration here, they've seen the number of avian flu cases declining as the birds move further north.

Wagner says while it may have taken out 20 birds, and there could be more out there, it's a small number in comparison to the number of birds out there.

A dead pelican by the shore at Frank Lake (photo credit:  Mark GarbuttA dead pelican by the shore at Frank Lake (photo credit Mark Garbutt)