Tuesday, March 5, 2024
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RSPB press launch – Mark Avery


Nice Skua. Picture: Tim Melling

Enormous concern for UK’s seabirds as quantity dying from Avian Influenza continues to extend

  • Impacts of Extremely Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on wild birds are intensifying quick in Scotland with reviews of hundreds of lifeless or dying seabirds and presumed circumstances now showing in England.
  • Shetland seems to be most closely affected, however growing reviews from different locations across the nation with many species affected
  • Final yr HPAI was chargeable for the lack of a couple of third of the Svalbard barnacle goose inhabitants that winters across the Solway estuary. Seabirds, lots of that are already struggling, are prone to be more durable hit as slower breeding charges may imply long-term inhabitants declines
  • The RSPB is looking on UK governments to urgently develop a response plan and to see this as a wake-up name that motion have to be taken to handle different threats going through our seabirds

Over the previous few weeks, giant numbers of lifeless and dying seabirds have been seen throughout the UK.

Shetland seems to be essentially the most closely affected, however there are growing numbers of reviews from lots of Scotland’s islands and coastlines in addition to and presumed circumstances showing in England.. As reviews enhance, the variety of species affected additionally seems to be growing.

There have been reviews of widespread deaths at nice skua colonies in Shetland, Honest Isle, Orkney, the Western Isles, Handa, the Flannan Isles and St Kilda. In addition to widespread reviews of sick and lifeless gannets at key colonies – most notably Noss in Shetland but additionally Troup Head in NE Scotland, Bass Rock within the Firth of Forth and elsewhere.

The RSPB’s director of conservation, Katie-Jo Luxton stated “Britain’s seabird populations are of world significance. The UK holds 56% of the worlds gannet inhabitants and Scotland has 60% of the world’s nice skuas. Each these species are amber listed. Our seabirds are already beneath huge strain from human impacts together with local weather change, lack of prey fish, deaths by entanglement in fishing gear and growth strain. There’s now nice concern for the impacts of hen flu on our already beleaguered wild birds.”

Final winter HPAI devasted numbers of barnacle geese within the Solway with estimates of a lack of greater than a 3rd of the world’s Svalbard inhabitants.

This spring, Scotland’s globally vital seabird populations are actually bearing the brunt and fears are that the long-term affect on these species might be rather more extreme.

Seabirds are long-lived, take longer to succeed in breeding age and have a tendency to provide fewer offspring than geese that means impacts of excessive grownup mortality on future numbers might be rather more important and any restoration take far longer. But, seabirds additionally already face a number of important threats and have already suffered extreme declines in numbers over current many years.

The RSPB believes that UK governments should act now to each reply to the creating scenario with HPAI and to make sure measures are put in place to cut back the opposite threats confronted by the UK’s seabirds.

Katie-Jo Luxton stated “Our seabird populations have halved because the Eighties. Now, a extremely mutable and lethal new type of avian influenza, which originated in poultry, is killing our wild seabirds in giant numbers. We urge UK governments to develop a response plan urgently – to coordinate surveillance and testing, disturbance minimisation, carcass disposal and biosecurity.

“In the long term, we urge a lot larger significance be given to prioritising and funding seabird conservation, so we assist make our seabird populations extra resilient to those illnesses alongside different pressures.”

If you happen to come throughout lifeless or sick birds, don’t contact them. As a substitute, please report them as quickly as potential to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

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