Bird flu fear over dead swans found in London canals

  • In Science
  • 2022-10-05 05:07:03Z
  • By BBC

About a dozen dead swans and geese have been found in canals near Little Venice in central London, amid concerns the cause of death could be avian flu.

The birds were discovered floating in the Regent's and Grand Union canals by tour operator Ben Perkins.

The UK is experiencing its largest ever outbreak of avian flu, with 161 cases recorded in captive birds - more than three million birds have been culled.

There are over 1,700 confirmed cases in the wild bird population.

London Waterbus Company operator Mr Perkins said he was seeing dead birds "all the time". He would usually find one only once every few months, he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

'It's terrible for us'

Similar incidents have been reported in other areas of the country. In Suffolk, 18 swans, a heron and two black-headed gulls were found dead in the River Stour.

According to the LDRS, Sudbury Common Lands Charity said it suspected avian flu was the cause of the birds' deaths, although this has not been verified. Other birds have been found dead in the Grantham Canal in Lincolnshire.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said wild birds were susceptible to a "range of diseases and injuries" and not all dead birds would have been infected with avian influenza.

Members of the public should call its helpline if they find one or more dead bird of prey, three or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl - swans, geese and ducks - or five or more dead birds of any species, Defra said.

Defra says the UK is facing its largest ever outbreak of avian flu
Defra says the UK is facing its largest ever outbreak of avian flu  

Mr Perkins told the LDRS: "All up the canals heading north from Camden, there are just loads of dead birds everywhere.

"We have seen 10 or 12 in the last few weeks. It's disturbing as we have a large bird population on Browning's Island.

"It's terrible for us, we are seeing dead carcasses all the time. It's just really unusual for us to see this."

He has contacted Westminster City Council as well as Defra and the Canal & River Trust in the hope it can be established how the birds died.

Replying to a tweet sent by the London Waterbus company about the deaths, the Canal & River Trust said local staff were aware of what had happened.

"Unfortunately, this is a national issue and we are working with other agencies to find a way to get this under control," the trust said.

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