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8 and counting: Vernon’s herons dying from heat

Good Samaritans trying to save the protected species birds
Herons are dropping from the trees due to the heat and many have died. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

The heat wave has killed at least eight of Vernon’s treasured great blue herons while efforts are underway to save more.

The birds are literally dropping from the trees due to the high temperatures.

People are trying to rescue them, but so far eight have died.

“They’re just dropping”

Jennifer and Jaimesen Kerr have spent several hours at the heron rookery so far, cooling birds down in pools and trying to save as many as they can.

“They’re just dropping,” said Jamiesen, who lives on a farm with her mom, Jennifer, and came to help.

“They’re over by Walmart they are everywhere and just panting. We’re just trying to get as many as we can. We’re mainly focusing on babies right now.”

Rita Bos, senior director of the Vernon Heronry Protection Society, while grateful for people’s concern, says leave a bucket of room-temperature water for them and they will go for the liquid. But keep out of the rookery.

“If you go onto the property and pick them up, you’re breaking provincial and federal laws,” said Bos. “You’re not allowed on the property at all.”

Only conservation officers are permitted to remove a dead bird.

In her many years of being a “heron parent,” as she calls herself, Bos said she’s seen the majestic birds suffer through serious storms, but never a severe heat wave.

“They’re just coming down the trees, whether they’re passing out I don’t know,” said Bos. “Down they go. It’s heartbreaking.”

Bos said 2021 has been a good year for heron returns to the rookery, though some were late to arrive for mating season.

READ MORE: No heat related deaths in Vernon

READ MORE: Paramedics call situation unbearable ‘unbearable’ as B.C. heat wave death counts hit 486


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Jennifer Kerr keeps a heron cool in a pool of water, trying to rescue the birds which are literally dropping from their nests due to the heat. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

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