Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been recorded at certain seabird colonies in the UK, with positive cases confirmed in Scotland and the east coast of England. As of yet, there have been no confirmed cases in seabird colonies in Ireland, although one raven on Skellig Michael has been recorded as a confirmed case recently.
The current situation is worrying because seabird populations are extremely vulnerable due to the colonial nature of their breeding, which is likely to increase the transmission of the virus. NPWS have urged members of the public visiting seabird colonies over the coming weeks to avoid disturbing breeding seabirds, keep distance from them and to avoid coming into close contact with any injured or dead birds.
The provision of seabird ringing licences, under Section 32 of the Wildlife Act, has been suspended due to the risk of furthering the transmission of Avian Influenza amongst Ireland’s seabird population.
What should you do if you find a sick, dying or dead bird?
The risk of contracting the disease from a wild bird is low, but Birdwatch Ireland recommend that people “do not handle sick or dead wild birds and report dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks), seabirds or birds of prey to the Department of Agriculture via the link below. It is important that any potential cases of avian influenza are investigated and documented appropriately in order to monitor the spread of the virus”.
The DAFM should be notified of any suspected avian influenza cases at 01 607 2512 (or 01 492 8026 outside of normal office hours).