Category Archives: Europe

Norwegian Farmers Threaten Geese Migration Routes

Farmers in Norway want fresh grass for their livestock and are threatening to drive off migratory geese – and their poop. As a result, it’s possible that tens of thousands of bean geese which are now in Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark will have big problems on arrival in Norway when they begin their migration. Researcher Marcel Kaassen from the Dutch Institute for Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) pleads for international intervention in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

The small bean goose has two populations in Europe. One group winters in the United Kingdom and migrates to Greenland or Iceland for the warmer months. The Spitsbergen group flies from their winter homes in the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to their breeding ground in Spitsbergen. They have rest stops throughout Norway during their journey.

Source: Noorse boeren bedreigen trekroute van ganzen

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Belgian Zoos Vaccinate Birds

The Antwerp Zoo and the Planckendael Zoo in Mechelen, Belgium, plan to vaccinate birds against the bird flu virus. Starting Monday, 20 February, the zoos began to vaccinate the most vulnerable birds, including storks, ostriches and waterfowl. The zoos were authorized to take this action by the government, according to a statement made on Sunday from the Antwerp Zoo.

At Planckendael, zoo officials admitted they were not completely sure if the vaccine will work to protect the birds. Even if it does work, it will only protect them against one type of bird flu.

The Belgian government has ordered all domestic birds which have not been vaccinated to be kept indoors. The Planckendael zoo chose to vaccinate the birds for their own well-being. According to a vet at the zoo, the exotic bird population there has already been indoors as a precaution since October. The emus in particular have had a rough time and have lost their appetite for food. The flamingoes, on the other hand, are normally kept inside during the winter, so the measures pose little threat to their well-being.

The birds at the Planckendael zoo will be vaccinated in two steps. The first shots are given this week; a second round will be given in six weeks. This is to insure that the birds produce enough antibodies to be resistant to the virus. However, it is not known if the vaccine will work with the “exotic” birds. The vaccine was made for poultry birds like chickens and ducks. There is no separate vaccine available for birds such as emus and flamingoes. A zoo official said that the birds would have to be vaccinated again in six months to continue their protection.

The vaccination process is stressful for the birds. Dutch zoos have already vaccinated some of their birds last year, and they noticed that some birds experienced swelling in the area of the shot. Because of the stress involved in giving the shot, the vets will conduct other studies on the birds while they are restrained.

In the Netherlands, the Rotterdam Zoo Blijdorp already vaccinated their bird population on December 13. The zoo in Amersfoort has also given the shots to their birds.

Antwerpse Zoo vaccineert vogels
Exotische vogels Planckendael krijgen spuitje tegen vogelgriep

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Non-Migratory Swans Hit Hard By Bird Flu, Cold Snap To Blame?

Swans have been hard hit by the deadly H5N1 virus in Europe; new individuals are found dead each day and the list of countries where they are found is growing. The mute swan, one of three species of swan found in Europe, has been the hardest hit by the disease, though they do not migrate. They are known to fly up to 180 miles to flee cold temperatures, which may explain the large number of mute swans who have been killed by the virus. Scientists are studying the spread of the virus and investigating the role played by swans. Read the story Swans useful pointers to spread of bird flu, experts say.

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Bird Ban Bad For Swiss Swan Sex

“Swiss swans have just one more weekend to have a fling before a government ban on keeping birds in the open air comes into effect on Monday. Forcing the birds to stay indoors will disrupt their behavior just as they are getting ready for reproductive action in the mating season which is about to start.” Read the story Bird flu fears will ruin swans’ sex lives, Swiss zoo warns in the Daily Times.

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Penguin Toga’s Parents Hatch A New Egg

The parents of the baby penguin stolen from a British zoo in December hatched a new chick last Tuesday. Kyala and Oscar’s chick has yet to be named and its sex is also still unknown. The Amazon World Zoo on the Isle of Wight installed surveillance cameras in the penguins’ pen for extra security. Read the story Penguins are parents once again at ABC News.

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Guided Nature Walks In Holland Avoid Waterfowl

Park rangers in the Netherlands are changing their guided walks in order to avoid areas where waterfowl congregate. They are also stopping guided walks which would normally pass through fields where large groups of geese or ducks live. These are some of the measures taken by the Dutch park service against the spread of bird flu.

A spokesperson said that since last fall the park rangers have been paying special attention to the health of the birds in the parks of the Netherlands. Every dead bird has also been carefully examined.

Besides the changes made to the guided walks program, the park service (Staatsbosbeheer) has also asked all volunteers who are working in the poultry industry to cease their volunteer activities.

Along with other Dutch agencies, the park service has noticed a sharp increase in the number of reports of dead birds they receive.

The park service and other agencies responsible for natural areas have a plan of action ready in case the H5N1 virus is found in the Netherlands, which might just be a matter of time. One such measure will be to close off certain areas to visitors.

Source: Natuurexcursies mijden watervogels zo veel mogelijk

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Dutch Bird Experts Oppose Fox Hunt

Foxes rob nests of the black-tailed Godwit, and because of that the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality wants hunters to be able to shoot the mammals beginning April 1. Bird experts oppose the plan.

Bird research organization SOVON, along with the countryside-management NGO Landschapsbeheer Nederland, conducted a study on the predators of meadow birds. As part of the study, Black-tailed Godwits were monitored with cameras. The full results of the study will be presented on 11 March.

A spokesperson has said that the research will not support the hunting of foxes. There is a great variety in the predators which threaten the godwits. Ermines, buzzards and seagulls are also preying on the godwits. The cameras even caught a domestic dog plundering a godwit nest. In addition there are areas where foxes live where they do not prey on protected birds.

Source: ‘Besluit om vos af te schieten voorbarig’

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Dutch Safety Authority: More Dead Bird Reports

In recent days, Dutch citizens have been more likely to report sightings of dead ducks, geese and other birds. That is according to a statement made by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA) on Wednesday. The media attention on the bird flu virus has made people more alert.

Since the discovery of the H5N1 virus in European countries, including Italy and Greece, dozens of dead bird reports have been called in each day in the Netherlands, according to the inspection division of the interior cabinet (AID). Back in January, the number of reports was about one per week.

Last fall the AID opened a hotline (045-546-6230) which people can use to call in dead bird reports. The dead birds are picked up by the VWA and are tested for the flu virus if necessary. So far the virus has not been found in any birds in the Netherlands.

Source: VWA: meer meldingen dode vogels

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