RSPCA no longer accepting injured seabirds due to bird flu risk

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A sign on the bank of the river Thames in Windsor, Berkshire, informing people not to feed the swans because of an Avian Influenza outbreak. Picture date: Monday January 17, 2022.
A bird flu warning sign on the bank of the river Thames in Windsor, Berkshire. (Getty)

RSPCA wildlife centres are no longer accepting injured seabirds due to the spread of bird flu in the UK.

The animal welfare charity said it made the “devastating” decision in order to limit the avian influenza outbreak which has become a “serious” problem over the summer.

Latest Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) figures have confirmed 102 cases of bird flu in England, with two cases each in Wales and Scotland earlier this year.

RSPCA England and Wales said people should no longer take injured seabirds, including gulls, gannets and fulmars, to its wildlife centres due to the potential risk to other animals.

It added it would try to respond to calls about sick and injured seabirds where possible and deal with them compassionately and appropriately.

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Preparations continue for a cull of chickens at Craigies Poultry Farm near Dunfermline in Scotland, where a "mild strain" of bird flu has been confirmed.
Defra figures have confirmed 102 cases of bird flu in England, with two cases each in Wales and Scotland earlier this year. (PA)

The RSPCA said in a statement: “Members of the public are being reminded not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds, as a highly deadly form of the disease avian influenza - or bird flu - becomes worryingly widespread in Britain's wild seabird population.

“Avian influenza has become a serious problem this summer and there are high levels of morbidity and mortality, particularly in seabirds around the coast.

“In order to help limit the spread of this terrible disease, the Government and other organisations are having to euthanase many affected birds, and some wildlife rescue centres have temporarily closed their doors to high risk wild bird admissions.”

RSPCA vet Jocelyn Toner added: "It's been devastating for our volunteers, vets and staff - who work for the RSPCA because they love animals - to see so many birds perishing due to this awful disease.

"Now it's important that we follow the government's advice and act to try to slow the spread and keep as many of our birds as safe as possible."

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File photo dated 22/05/22 of Puffins flying in to the Farne Islands in Northumberland, as the Farne Islands will closed to visitors from Sunday following a serious outbreak of bird flu.
Puffins are seen in the Farne Islands in Northumberland. (PA)

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The RSPCA said information on helping young, healthy birds found outside the nest and baby birds was available on its website.

When avian influenza is confirmed or suspected in poultry or other captive birds, disease control zones are put in place around the infected premises to prevent the spread of the disease.

Within these zones, restrictions on the movement of poultry and material associated with their keeping can apply.

There are currently two disease control zones around Bexhill and Hastings in East Sussex due to outbreaks of the illness which saw several birds humanely culled.

There are five other disease control zones currently in force - two in Shropshire, two in Nottinghamshire and one in Derbyshire.

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