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MSP flags wild bird concerns

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
MSP flags wild bird concerns

THE impact of avian flu on the region’s wild birds has been flagged up by South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

He is concerned about the toll the disease is having locally, after dozens of reports of dead and dying wild birds across Dumfries and Galloway.

Experts have said that avian flu is causing huge numbers of wild bird deaths, especially among the migrating geese which winter along the Solway Coast.

And, a number of cases have been found among domestic birds resulting in flocks being culled.

Mr Smyth said: “We are seeing a growing number of avian flu outbreaks among domestic flocks and poultry farms in our region and this continues to be a real problem. My thoughts are always with the owners whose flocks are being culled.

“However, the appalling impact on wild birds appears to have been forgotten. The Scottish Government keep referring to the number of cases as just a couple but that is only on farms. This utterly ignores the scale of the problem in wild birds, especially among wild geese. Our region is famous for the geese which migrate here each winter and hundreds, if not thousands, of these birds and others are dying because of bird flu.

“While there are now 3km protection zones and 10km surveillance zones around the farm sites where there have been identified cases of bird flu, no such protections or surveillance exists where wild birds have died.”

He believes the government should be considering whether to limit access to sites in high risks areas where wildfowl and people mix, as well as limits on wildfowling.

And he added: “Avian flu in the wild bird population also has a relevance to humans and I would urge walkers, and especially those walking dogs, to be particularly vigilant while out and about.”

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