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Thousands of snow geese die after ‘landing on toxic waters’ in Montana, USA

Several thousand snow geese have died after a snowstorm forced large flocks to take refuge in the acidic, metal-laden waters of an old open pit mine in Montana.
Mark Thompson, environmental affairs manager for mine company Montana Resources, said witnesses described the pit as like “700 acres of white birds” on 28 November.
Along with Atlantic Richfield, Montana Resources is responsible for Berkeley Pit in Butte.
Since 28 November, employees of MR and Arco had used spotlights, noise makers and other efforts to scare or “haze” the birds off the water and prevent others from landing.
The companies estimated that more than 90% of the birds had been chased off by 29 November, Thompson said.
Workers received some advance notice about the incoming flock from an off-duty Montana Resources employee about 25 miles away, who called to report there were about 25,000 geese in the air in Anaconda, Thompson said.
“I can’t underscore enough how many birds were in the Butte area that night,” Thompson said. “Numbers beyond anything we’ve ever experienced in our 21 years of monitoring by several orders of magnitude.”
The employees worked hard to save the birds, he said.
Typically, Butte sees between 2,000 and 5,000 birds all year, including spring and water migration, Thompson said.
The estimated death toll is based on drone and aircraft flights over the pit, which holds about 45bn gallons (175bn litres) of water.
Thompson said federal and state agencies were still confirming the number of dead geese. Nonetheless the company expected the total would be many times more than the 342 that died in 1995, prompting a mitigation effort that seeks to protect birds from the toxic water.
The companies would investigate to try and determine what circumstances led to “this kind of perfect storm”, with thousands of birds making a late migration and then facing a snowstorm at a time that Berkeley Pit had the only open water in the area.
University of Montana Western professor Jack Kirkley, who specializes in ornithology, told the Montana Standard that recent milder winters were not encouraging birds to head south as early and, in some cases, were causing some to stay in places where they had never stayed the winter before.
He noted there were 4m to 6m snow geese on the continent and there were some concerns that the population was too high.
MR and Arco could be fined if the EPA determines the companies were not in compliance with the bird hazing program, but Thompson said he was confident the efforts were adequate.
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700 geese found dead, due to avian flu in Lubuskie Province, Poland

Bird Flu
An outbreak of avian flu has been reported at a goose farm in Lubuskie province, western Poland, where around 700 birds have been found dead.
Samples of dead birds have been sent to the State Veterinary Institute, which confirmed an infection by the H5 virus, commonly known as bird flu.
The detected strain, H5N8, is not considered to be harmful to humans.
As required by European Union legislation, the Lubuskie province governor ordered a 3-kilometre protection zone and a 10-kilometre outer surveillance zone to be imposed around the farm to prevent the spread of the disease. The quarantine is to last 20 days.
Other measures will entail a cull of several hundred other live birds on the farm.
In early November, avian flu was detected in five wild ducks and a seagull found dead in a lake near Szczecin, north-western Poland.
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Thousands of geese and chickens killed due to avian flu in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Bird Flu
The news agency dpa reports that around 8 800 geese on two poultry farms will be culled in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein because some of the animals are infected with the bird flu.
Dpa said on Sunday it was not clear yet whether the birds were infected with the H5N8 strain that has been detected in wilds bird across 10 German states since November 8.
Last week, 30 000 chickens were destroyed in Schleswig-Holstein after H5N8 was detected in their enclosure.
Several German states have already ordered farmers to keep their fowl indoors to prevent them picking up the virus, which can easily spread among birds but is not known to infect humans.
The virus has been detected in several European countries.
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1,000+ geese killed due to avian flu in Tainan, Taiwan

Bird Flu

More than 1,000 geese at a farm in the Xinhua District of Tainan in southern Taiwan were destroyed Monday after samples from the farm tested positive for a new strain of H5 avian flu virus, according to officials.
Officials of the city’s animal protection department said Tuesday that the farm owner reported abnormal deaths of geese on the farm July 1, and disease control experts who were sent to investigate found the remaining geese to be in low spirits and a bit distressed.
The experts took samples from the farm for testing and confirmed July 3 that a new strain of the H5 bird flu RNA virus had spread among the birds.
Animal protection officials followed standard procedure in culling a total of 1,048 geese on the farm and disinfecting the area, according to the department.
Monitoring of three poultry farms within 1 kilometer of the affected farm did not find anything abnormal as of Tuesday afternoon.
The officials said recent afternoon thunderstorms that created high humidity amid high temperatures might have had a negative impact on the geese’s immune systems, leaving them less resistant to the virus.
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Hundreds of snow geese found dead in Idaho, USA

Poison Gas Alert

Poisonous gas caused the deaths of more than 300 snow geese migrating through eastern Idaho in March, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game says.
The Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Lab and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab found traces of phosphine gas in tissue samples from dead birds collected at Mud Lake and Market Lake wildlife management areas.
Market Lake WMA hosts a blizzard of feathers in the spring. About 50,000 big, bright-white and honking snow geese stop at ponds near Roberts to rest and refuel, but for the second year in a row, some of those geese died. The trend warranted testing even though the overall snow goose and Ross’ goose population, estimated at 2 million, is not impacted by the die-off.
“It won’t cause any population concerns with those species, but it does raise concerns with other birds that are not as visible – birds like partridge, pheasant and Canada geese that are not as easy to find,” said Jeff Knetter, Fish and Game upland game and migratory bird coordinator.
During the same two-year die-off, the vole population in the area increased. Voles are similar to mice in size, and farmers often use zinc phosphide to control the rodents in their fields. When phosphide is consumed, it turns into the poisonous gas phosphine.
“Ag does use zinc phosphide to kill voles, but in truth we’re not sure where the geese picked it up,” Knetter says. “The folks that are using zinc phosphide are just trying to deal with voles damaging their crops. We can’t make a link at this point, but we want to provide people with resources so they can educate themselves on the issues.”
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1,700 Geese killed due to avian flu in Taibao City, Taiwan

Bird Flu

Nearly 1,700 geese were slaughtered at a farm in Chiayi County’s (嘉義縣) Taibao City (太保市) on Monday after an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza sub-type H5N2, in an effort to stop the disease from spreading.
The strain came a day after 1,652 geese, also infected with the H5N2 virus, had been killed at a farm in Yunlin County (雲林縣).
According to the Livestock Disease Control Center of Chiayi County (LDCC, 家畜疾病防治所), the farm located in Taibao owned a total of around 1,700 susceptible geese, among which 200 were suspected of infection, reported by the owner surnamed Hung (洪) on April 1.
Officials told the Central News Agency that after receiving test results confirming the birds had been infected, authorities were sent to kill off the entire flock as a control measure, as well as cleaning and disinfecting the farm and nearby public spaces.
The dead birds were then sent to a nearby incinerator for disposal.
According to Chiayi County’s Agriculture Department (AD, 農業處), the goose farm has been keeping the flock for almost a year, and the birds have begun to hatch eggs. Currently, the birds at two nearby farms have not shown unusual symptoms, but will be monitored over the next three months.
Recently, there have been isolated cases of bird flu found around the country, which indicates that viruses are still active in the environment. Farms and retailers should step up preventive efforts, restrict the entrance of people and cars, and report suspicious cases to authorities as soon as possible, stated the LDCC.
Officials stated if farms are hit by the disease, personnel, vehicles, equipment, containers, and cages all have to be sanitized, in order to prevent future outbreaks.
The Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) urged those in the poultry industry to report any abnormalities in their flocks to their local LDCC for inspection, and those that fail to report accordingly will face a fine of between NT$50,000 and NT$1 million, and they will not receive compensation after the slaughtering of their flocks.
The strain of H5N2 avian influenza that has hit Yunlin County and Chiayi County in the past week brings the number of poultry farms around Taiwan affected by the new H5N2 strain to 17 since the beginning of this year, according to COA statistics.
Last year, the bird flu hit more than 400 goose farms, and only 100 have resumed operations, COA stated to local media.
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167,000 birds killed due to avian flu in Katsina, Sokoto and Bauchi provinces, Nigeria

Bird Flu

Eighteen new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza were reported in Nigeria last week.
The H5N1 outbreaks occurred in Katsina, Sokoto and Bauchi provinces, among others. Mostly layers and pullets were affected, but some broilers, geese and other birds were also killed.
Nearly 160,000 birds were destroyed and over 7000 died as a result of the outbreaks.
Stamping out, disinfection, surveillance and movement control methods are all being used to control the disease.
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12,000+ chickens and geese killed due to avian flu in Taiwan

Bird Flu

More than 12,000 chickens and geese have been culled at two poultry farms in Central and Southern Taiwan after health officials confirmed bird flu infections at those farms, local government officials said Sunday.
Tung Meng-chih (董孟治) , director of the Animal Disease Control Center of Changhua County, said more than 10,000 locally bred chickens were destroyed at a poultry farm in Dacheng Township on Sunday after a high percentage of them were confirmed to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 Type B strain.
This was the fifth outbreak of bird flu in the county this year and the first since the start of the Lunar New Year on Feb. 8, Tung said.
At a goose farm in Liuying District in Tainan, 2,443 geese were culled Sunday after some of the dead geese tested positive for H5 bird flu virus infection, officials with the city’s Animal Health and Protection Office said.
Animal health officials also disinfected an area within 1 kilometer from the goose farm where two other poultry farms are located, and the area will be closely monitored for three months to ensure the bird flu does not spread.
Both of the infected farms were closed to the outside and not vulnerable to infection by contact with wild birds, leading experts to think the infection was brought in from the outside.
Lee Chao-chuan (李朝全), director of Tainan’s Animal Health and Protection Office, said controls on the entry of humans, animals and biological matter into the farms are very important in preventing infections.
He urged farmers not to rush to introduce young geese onto their farms as some may be doing because of the high market price goose meat currently fetches after a harsh winter that saw a large number of geese wiped out by bird flu.
“Sanitizing the farms is critical before you start raising them,” Lee said.
In Taipei, Council of Agriculture officials called on farmers to closely watch to see if there are any abnormal deaths or egg-laying rates among their poultry.
“Attention should also be paid to the birds’ drinking and dieting habits. Farmers should call animal health authorities as soon as anything unusual is observed,” a council official advised.
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41,000 birds dead due to another outbreak of avian flu in Taiwan

Bird Flu

Six new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been found in Taiwan.
The outbreaks affected goose and chicken farms in Pingtung, Changhua, Tainan City and Yunlin counties, and were detected after abnormal mortality levels.
One of the outbreaks in Pingtung county was of the H5N8 strain, whilst the other five were of the H5N2 strain.
In total, over 23,000 birds were destroyed and over 18,000 died as a result of the outbreaks.
Control measures used include movement controls, screening, stamping out, disinfection and quarantine.
Courtesy of thepoultrysite

Tens of thousands of birds killed due to avian flu in various areas of Taiwan

Bird Flu

Ten more outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported in Taiwan.
There were three outbreaks of the H5N8 strain, in Pingtung, Chiayi, and Koahsiung counties.
The farms affected included a duck farm, a goose farm and a chicken farm.
Over one thousand birds died and nearly ten thousand were destroyed as a result of the H5N8 outbreaks.
There were also seven outbreaks of the H5N2 strain, in Pingtung, Changhua, Yunlin, and Taipei counties, affecting chickens, geese and turkeys on farms and abattoirs.
Over 32 thousand birds were destroyed in the H5N2 outbreaks, and over 6000 died.
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