A huge number of birds, specifically kittiwakes, were found to be dead on the cliffs and on sea of East Yorkshire. Experts are looking at the possibility that their death was caused by the avian flu.
As reported in BBC, the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird said authorities are already investigating if the instantaneous death of the birds in Bempton Nature Reserve was because they were infected with bird flu.
Around 500,000 sea birds are residing in the site north of Bridlington during the breeding season.
Tests were already done to verify the speculation of bird flu, with officials just waiting for the result.
Nature Reserve to remain open
In a tweet, the team behind Bempton Nature Reserve said that the kittiwakes, and many other species, “will leave our cliffs in the coming weeks, quite a few young have fledged.”
“While it is worrying, the birds affected are in a localised area. It is hoped that the majority of the birds will leave the cliffs before the impact worsens,” the Bempton Nature Reserve said.
⚠PLEASE NOTE: ⚠
We have had a number of bird deaths, specifically Kittiwakes, on the cliffs and sea at Bempton reserve, that are being investigated as Avian Influenza or ‘Bird ‘flu’. DEFRA has been informed. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/tUX5fl4AsR
— RSPB Bempton Cliffs (@Bempton_Cliffs) July 18, 2023
Kittiwakes are described as gentle looking, medium-sized gulls with a small yellow bill and a dark eye.
Despite the deaths of birds, the nature reserve will remain open to the public because the risk of infection among human beings is low.
The team, however, advised the public not to touch or remove dead or dying birds. Further, dog owners must ensure to keep their dog on a distance with the sick or dead birds whenever they are walking in the reserve.
“We have been advised, in order to keep our team safe, we should leave any dead birds where they are unless they pose a serious public health risk,” the Bempton Nature Reserve stressed.
Data cited by BBC said that the United Kingdom’s population of kittiwakes already went down by about 50 percent in the past 25 years.
Experts said this decline had resulted in the bird being considered as a conservation priority and a red-listed species. Being in the red list is a critical indicator of the health of the global biodiversity.
Avian flu outbreak in East Yorkshire, death of kittiwakes
In April of this year, an outbreak of avian flu was reported at a nature reserve after a lot of birds were found dead.
According to the team that looks after the North Cave Wetlands, they had never seen a high mortality among bird before, an article on BBC stated.
Meanwhile, there were also reports before about the massive death of kittiwakes in Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska in 2021.
An entry posted on the University of Alaska Fairbanks said that aside from the death of several kittiwakes, large gulls also died in the area.
Experts noted that the massive death of seabirds have been usual in the North as it could be related to the warmer conditions in the ocean. They said warmer water temperatures can change food sources or quality and can cause harmful algae blooms, which both can claim the lives of birds.
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