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Bird flu tally grows

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By Fiona Reid
Bird flu tally grows

AVIAN flu was last night confirmed in a flock of pet birds at Middlebie - bringing the total number of recorded cases in Dumfriesshire to four.

The H5N1 strain was founded at premises deemed ‘special category’, which means they are non-commercial in nature.

Over the last two weeks the disease has been found at farms and addresses in Wamphray, Kirtlebridge and Kirkpatrick Fleming with three kilometre Protection Zones (PZ) and ten kilometre Surveillance Zones (SZ) declared around the affected premises with warning signs erected on key roads.

This means movement restrictions on poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure to prevent any further spread.

The Scottish Government are urging vigilance by all bird keepers locally and any suspicion of disease should be reported immediately to the local Animal and Plant Health Agency office.

Meanwhile, there were reports of dead swans being found at Carlingwark Loch this week and RSPB bosses also revealed they fear an estimated 4000 barnacle geese have been affected on the Solway.

The RSPB’s team at the region’s Mersehead Reserve have spent much of the week carrying out crucial monitoring for the spread of the flu after positive cases were confirmed in dead birds there.

In a blog post they warned visitors that it is ‘highly likely’ they could see a dead bird when visiting and said: “This is seemingly having a significant effect on the reserve with distressing sights being witnessed. The hardest hit species at present is the barnacle goose, one of the reserves priority species. The staff here are devastated to witness this happen. Our work here is tailored to protecting and conserving this species in particular and so the current situation is very upsetting.”

The current UK outbreak has been described by government ministers as the ‘largest ever’ to hit the country.

However, Dumfriesshire’s pigeon fanciers say they are confident the outbreak will not affect their sport.

The racing birds are generally kept indoors over winter to protect them from hawks.

President of the Solway Federation Michael Currie, of Moffat, said he thought it was mainly a winter problem and he was not worried it would affect the reopening of a new racing season in April.


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