Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary forced to mass cull birds after bird flu outbreak

An animal center in North Yorkshire has had to make the difficult decision to cull many resident birds due to an outbreak of highly contagious bird flu.

Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary confirmed on social media that cases of the flu had been identified after capturing a number of roosters.

These birds died while in isolation and tests confirmed the presence of avian flu – with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) culling the remaining isolated birds.

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Taking to social media on Saturday, Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary said it was “heartbroken” to confirm that bird flu had been detected and that it had followed all the proper guidelines over the past few months, including wearing of PPE around the animals and the creation of an isolation center for new additions to the sanctuary.

They added: “We recently accepted a group of abandoned roosters, for which we had no history on these abandoned animals. Unfortunately, it appears that someone else’s neglect has cost us dearly. These birds are died in our segregation unit shortly after arrival.

“We had to report these deaths and send their bodies for testing. Within 24 hours they were confirmed to have bird flu and now the rest of the birds in our isolation unit have been euthanized.”

After cases of bird flu were reported in November, Defra introduced a bird flu prevention zone which made it a legal requirement for all keepers in the UK to keep their birds indoors or in nets and away from wild birds.

Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary has confirmed that due to the current situation with Avian Flu they are unable to accept new animals.

A spokesperson for Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said: “Earlier this week, Chief Veterinarian Christine Middlemiss confirmed bird flu at an animal rescue center in Whitby in the North Yorkshire.

“The birds at this center have tested positive for avian influenza and will therefore unfortunately need to be culled in order to limit the risk of spreading the disease to other birds and to mitigate any potential risk to animal and public health.

“Our sympathies go out to the caretaker and volunteers at the center and to anyone with birds affected by this terrible disease.”

On Sunday morning, Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary thanked the public for “all the love and support” they have received since news of the bird culling broke.

They said they suffered “trauma and stress” as a result of the flu outbreak.

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