RSPB calls for emergency shooting ban during bird flu outbreak

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The RSPB calls on an emergency ban on shooting in a part of the UK amid bird flu outbreak (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The RSPB calls on an emergency ban on shooting in a part of the UK amid bird flu outbreak (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has called for a temporary ban on shooting in area badly hit by bird flu as the UK faces its worst ever outbreak.

The group said there should be a halt in activity on the Solway, an estuary stretching from Cumbria up to Dumfries and Galloway.

Bird flu has been detected at more than 70 premises in the UK over the past few months in the UK’s largest outbreak to date.

This has topped the previous record of 26 set the year before, which a senior government official told The Independent “now pales into insignificance”.

RSPB Scotland said it was calling for an emergency ban on shooting on the Solway for the rest of the wildfowling season “to reduce the devastating impacts of avian influenza”.

Figures show migratory geese which spend the winter in this area are being hardest hit in the current outbreak, the group said.

Paul Walton from RSPB Scotland said: “We are in the grip of an unprecedented outbreak and unfortunately the Solway seems to be the epicentre of this in the UK.”

The group’s head of habitats and species added: “Our birds are suffering and they need an urgent reprieve to help them get through this winter and ensure that as many as possible of those remaining survive to make their migration back home to Scandinavia to breed in the summer.”

Earlier this month, Professor Ian Brown from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) told The Independent the UK could now be facing major bird flu outbreaks ever year, after breaking records twice in a row.

Events were increasing in both scale and frequency, he said.

As well as scores of premises being infected during the current outbreak, a man in his seventies has become the first Briton to contract a strain of bird flu in what experts called an extremely rare case.

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