Bird flu wipes out SIXTY of Worcester's 300 swans

Bird flu wipes out SIXTY of Worcester’s 300 swans as disturbing images reveal carcasses floating in River Severn

  • The city’s swan population has decreased by one fifth as 60 birds died of H5N8 
  • Locals have renamed the river a ‘swan graveyard’, due to the dead birds floating 
  • Outbreaks of H5N8 have  been confirmed in Gloucestershire, Norfolk and Devon 

Disturbing images reveal dead birds floating in the River Severn as 60 of Worcester’s 300 swans have been wiped out by bird flu. 

The city’s emblematic swan population has decreased by one fifth as the River Severn has been filled with carcasses, leading locals to rename it a ‘swan graveyard’.

Wildlife experts fear the number of swan deaths will rise while the disease spreads through the bird population.  

Bird flu has wiped out sixty of Worcester’s 300 swans as dead birds  can be seen floating in the River Severn

Marilyn McCarthy, of the Worcester Swan Feeding Project, said: ‘At my most recent count there were 60 dead swans in Worcester, although this number is almost guaranteed to be much higher.

‘We estimate we have around 300 swans in Worcester so to have lost 60 is awful.

‘Each day some fall sick and others die. The Canal and River Trust is collection bodies to reduce the spread of infection and reduce the upset for the public.

‘Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is well aware of the scale of the problem and the urgency of the matter.

The river has been filled with carcasses, leading locals to rename it a ‘swan graveyard’

‘Swans lose interest in food, even the pellets they normally love, and gradually withdraw into themselves.

‘They drift into quiet spaces under the trees or backwaters where the current is less strong.

‘When very poorly, they drift with the current into corners and quietly and peacefully die.

‘The greatest thing the public can do is to feed swans on the river to help them to be strong and to make it less necessary for them to fly elsewhere spreading infection.’

Residents living near the River Severn have reported seeing increasing numbers of dead swans.

Wildlife experts fear the number of swan deaths will rise

Ben Wakefield, 25, who lives in an apartment overlooking the river, said: ‘Two days on the trot we have seen dead swans floating in the Basin in Diglis.

‘My girlfriend has rang the council and Defra and they have informed us of a disease in the swans.

‘Yet I have not seen anyone around to recover bodies for testing, they are just floating on the water.

‘It’s grim. My girlfriend was quite upset by it, it’s like living above a swan graveyard.

‘I would have thought, given the seriousness of the disease, the swans would be removed immediately to stop the spread but this hasn’t happened.

‘Worcester could lose its swan population and the River Severn will never be the same,’ says local Ben Wakefield

‘If this attitude continues, Worcester could lose its swan population and the River Severn will never be the same.’

The outbreak has also hit nearby Wychbold Swan Rescue in Droitwich, Worcs., where 15 birds have died.   

It comes as outbreaks of H5N8, which has been in evidence among wild bird populations in Europe, have been confirmed in geese and swans in Gloucestershire, Devon and Dorset.

Dying swans were also found spinning in circles and bleeding from the nostrils in Cumbria.

Earlier this month avian flu was confirmed in rearing turkeys at a premises near Attleborough in Norfolk.  

Bird flu outbreaks  have been confirmed in geese and swans across the UK

And last month, it was revealed that more than 10,000 turkeys had to be culled at a North Yorkshire farm following a bird flu outbreak there.

A chicken farm in Herefordshire also recorded an outbreak, while cases among geese and swans were recorded in areas including Gloucestershire, Devon, Dorset, and Co Londonderry in Northern Ireland.  

Last month, restrictions were declared to prevent the spread of the virus as England, Scotland and Wales were made an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ).

This means that poultry and captive bird keepers must take additional steps such as disinfecting equipment, vehicles and clothing, changing clothing and footwear before entering enclosures and limiting access to non-essential people.

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