I’m sad to report that Avian Influenza – Bird Flu – has claimed the lives of several swans and geese at Chasewater and this has been confirmed by government scientists from DEFRA. There have been other deceased birds found at Stubbers Green pools and on the local canal – confirmation that they died from the same cause is not evident at time of posting, but it’s very likely.
This is devastating for local bird flocks, but sadly this is part of a larger outbreak across Europe and the UK and the mobile, social nature of waterfowl makes this disease rather virulent. It doesn’t affect humans, but can be transmitted to domestic birds and farmed flocks.
For the time being, please do not feed waterfowl at parks, open spaces or on the canal. as feeding causes the birds to flock around the feeder and increases social contact, potentially spreading flu between the birds.
Please keep clear of poolsides, don’t walk in bird poo which spreads the virus, and keep away from birds that have passed away or are sick (a symptom is spinning in circles in the water with head flopping from side to side).
Rescues and vets cannot treat these animals and however hard it is, they must be left alone. I know. It’s heartbreaking, it really is.
If you visit different sites, please disinfect your footwear and wash hands.
If you see dead birds – and sadly, this is very likely – report to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.
At the moment, nothing can be done and we just watch and wait for the virus to pass through. It’s all we can do.
Staffordshire County Council issued this warning on Friday:
Public Urged Not To Touch Sick or Dead Birds – as Avian Influenza Confirmed in the County
People are being reminded to do what they can to help reduce the spread of avian influenza following confirmation of cases in Staffordshire.
The two cases were confirmed in wild birds found dead at Chasewater Country Park last week.
Visitors to the country park are being asked not to feed any birds, to keep dogs on leads near the water and stay to the paths.
People should not touch or try to rescue sick or injured birds and should report them to the park rangers or to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.
Visitors are asked to follow any guidance on site to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Officers from Staffordshire County Councils Trading Standards Animal Health team are also advising all bird keepers to remain vigilant and to look out for signs of ill health in their birds.
They should follow strict bio-security rules.
This includes ensuring wild birds cannot have access to any bedding, feed or water intended for use for kept poultry or birds.
In addition to this, steps must be taken to reduce the movements of people into or out of the areas where birds are kept.
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said:
“We have seen first-hand earlier this year the impact of an outbreak of avian influenza so it’s really important we are aware and do what we can to reduce the spread of it.
“While the risk to the public from this strain of avian flu is very low, people visiting our country parks including Chasewater should follow any local guidance.
“People should not touch or try to rescue injured birds as they could be infected.
“Anyone spotting injured or dead birds should report them to the Defra helpline.”
Further advice for bird keepers on reducing the spread of avian influenza is available here.