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Half of Stratford's swans killed by bird flu



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Stratford’s swan warden Cyril Bennis with one of the dead swans found near Lucy’s Mill in recent days. Photo: Mark Williamson S106/11/21/5819. (52824099)
Stratford’s swan warden Cyril Bennis with one of the dead swans found near Lucy’s Mill in recent days. Photo: Mark Williamson S106/11/21/5819. (52824099)

ABOUT half of Stratford’s swan population are estimated to have been killed by avian flu.

Cyril Bennis, of Stratford Swan Rescue, told the Herald on Thursday afternoon that about 40 swans had died.

“It’s nearly half,” he said. “It’s staggering and I’m not sure what’s going to come next.

“It’s so unpredictable. One minute they’re fine and the next minute they’re not.”

Mr Bennis had been dealing with the outbreak on the River Avon on his own for the first few days before being joined by RSPCA officers.

A week into the ordeal, and following other outbreaks of the virus across the UK, Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) put a country-wide avian flu prevention zone in place with members of the public being asked to report any sightings of dead wild birds.

Keepers with more than 500 birds have to restrict access for non-essential people on their sites, workers will need to change clothing and footwear before entering bird enclosures and site vehicles will need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

While 'backyard' owners with smaller numbers of poultry including chickens, ducks or geese, must also take steps to limit the risk of bird flu spreading to their animals.

However, not much can be done to protect wild birds.

Mr Bennis said Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi had been in contact with both him and Defra to help with the situation on the River Avon.

And Public Health England had been in contact with Mr Bennis to discuss his own wellbeing.



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