Concern and anger grows for hundreds of birds trapped inside old Cape Breton church

It's been several years since St. Anthony's Church on Dominion Street in Glace Bay closed its doors to the public, and since that time the vacant facility has attracted hundreds of birds, both inside and out.

“We collected 95 birds yesterday and they were covered in ice because of the drop in temperature and the freezing rain that we had,” said animal advocate Emma Wrathall.

Wrathall says with help from Hope for Wildlife the birds collected this weekend survived.

But she says after work crews boarded up windows, it left more birds trapped inside -- and others on the outside without shelter from the elements.

“I have lots of photos and videos of birds throwing themselves against the windows trying to get out,” said Wrathall.

The videos and photos have caught the attention of Amanda McDougall, mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

“It goes right to your stomach. The emotion of thinking about animals in distress, so it's really hard to know the suffering of those poor animals,” she said.

McDougall said she has reached out to the proper authorities - and is planning to file a complaint.

But she said the main concern now is protecting the birds.

“Before the demolition of the building, it's huge, that the animals are humanely reintroduced to nature. I'm not sure how that would happen, but I’m sure it would have to be led by natural resources,” said McDougall.

According to Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick, the building is owned the Diocese of Antigonish and is slated to be demolished.

He said that could take some time as proper steps need to be followed, but that the focus of the diocese is on the birds, and getting them out safely.

Kirkpatrick said food and water has been also put inside.

Wrathall is hoping the demolition can be put off until the spring, so the birds can stay sheltered out of the cold.

“This is their home and this weather isn't safe because they're staying here, so it's very heartbreaking and concerning,” she said.