MSP raises concerns about wild birds

THE effects of avian flu on the area’s wild birds have been identified by South Scottish MSP Colin Smyth.

He is concerned about the toll the disease is causing on the ground after dozens of reports of dead and dying wild birds in Dumfries and Galloway.

Experts have said that avian flu is causing a large number of deaths in wild birds, particularly the migratory geese that winter along the Solway coast.

And a number of cases have been found in domestic birds that resulted in flocks being killed.

Mr Smyth said: “We are seeing an increasing number of bird flu outbreaks in domestic flocks and poultry farms in our area and this continues to be a real problem. My thoughts are always with the owners whose flocks are being killed.

“However, the dire effects on wild birds seem to have been forgotten. The Scottish Government keeps referring to the number of cases as just a couple, but that only applies to farms. This completely ignores the extent of the problem in wild birds, particularly wild geese. Our region is famous for the geese that migrate here every winter and hundreds, if not thousands, of these birds and others die from avian flu.

“Although there are now 3 km of protection zones and 10 km of surveillance zones around the farm sites where cases of avian flu have been detected, there is no such protection or surveillance where wild birds have died.”

He believes the government should consider restricting access to areas in high risk areas where wild birds and humans mix, as well as restricting wild birds.

And he added: “Avian flu in the wild bird population also has implications for humans and I would like to ask walkers, and especially these dogs, to be extra vigilant when they are out and about.”

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