Avian Influenza response continues, but reported numbers reducing along Aberdeenshire shores

Following continued efforts to remove dead seabirds from Aberdeenshire coastline this week, there is now a significant reduction in the numbers being reported.

Since the start of July, teams led by Aberdeenshire Council’s Landscape Services section - supported by colleagues volunteering from Live Life Aberdeenshire, Building Maintenance and other services - have been removing carcasses suspected of having Avian Influenza from coastal locations around Aberdeenshire.

From St Cyrus in the south northwards through the likes of Stonehaven, Balmedie, Newburgh, Cruden Bay, Peterhead Fraserburgh, Crovie and Macduff, this has been a major coordinated approach by frontline teams, who are thanked for their efforts during what has been an unpleasant yet critical task.

More than 1,000 birds have now been collected and safely disposed of, with Cruden Bay and Crovie alone seeing around 500 carcasses uplifted in recent weeks.

More than 1,000 birds have now been collected and safely disposed of

Communities have played a pivotal role in calling the council teams to report significant numbers along the beaches which has aided response tremendously.

The teams have been responding to reports as soon as possible, though tidal flow can obviously result in additional carcasses being washed up quite quickly at the same location.

Now, as the warmer summer weather finally reaches the north-east, the council is again reminding everyone that the beaches remain safe to enjoy and the threat of transmission to humans is still very low.

Gordon Buchanan, Protective Services Manager, said: “On behalf of Aberdeenshire Council, I would like to thank all our teams for their rapid and efficient response, and particularly to all those frontline personnel who have done a tremendous job under very challenging circumstances clearing our beaches of these dead seabirds.

“Although we are now seeing a distinct reduction in the number of reported sightings, there are still some birds being washed up along our coastline. We will remain vigilant over the weeks and months to come and will respond to further sightings, but for now we have ensured that our beaches remain relatively clear and safe for everyone to enjoy this summer.”

Meanwhile, to ensure our seabird colonies are given the best possible chance of survival and recovery, NatureScot is asking the public to behave responsibly during this unprecedented outbreak and not to take access through seabird colonies for the rest of the breeding season.

This approach gives the best chance to limit the spread of the virus by human activities and give colonies the best possible opportunity of survival and recovery by reducing any additional stress.

You should also remember to follow this safety advice at all times:

• Do not pick up or touch dead or sick wild birds

• Keep pets/dogs away from any dead or sick birds

• Don't feed wild waterfowl

• Don't touch wild bird feathers or surfaces contaminated with droppings

Members of the public are still being encouraged to continue reporting groupings of 10 or more dead birds via the council’s dedicated phoneline on 01467 537444.

If you keep poultry or other birds, it is vital that you wash your hands and clean and disinfect your footwear before tending to your birds.

For more details on avian influenza, visit www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/