Big concern for Scotland’s seabirds as quantity dying from Avian Influenza continues to extend

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Over the previous few weeks, massive numbers of lifeless and dying seabirds have been seen throughout Scotland.

Shetland seems to be essentially the most closely affected, however there are growing numbers of stories from a lot of Scotland’s islands and coastlines. As stories improve, the variety of species affected additionally seems to be growing.

There have been stories of widespread deaths at nice skua (bonxie) colonies in Shetland, Honest Isle, Orkney, the Western Isles, Handa, the Flannan Isles and St Kilda. In addition to widespread stories of sick and lifeless gannets at key colonies – most notably Noss in Shetland but additionally Troup Head in NE Scotland, Bass Rock within the Firth of Forth and elsewhere. Scotland has 60% of the world’s inhabitants of breeding nice skuas and 46% of breeding gannets.

There are additionally stories of excessive mortality in sandwich and Arctic terns and elevated numbers of lifeless guillemots at a colony on the Mull of Galloway.

Many individuals dwelling in areas affected are dealing with the impacts each day, as they stroll previous the corpses of seabirds mendacity on seashores.

Nice Skua, copyright Tony Davison, from the surfbirds galleries

Stewart Bain, RSPB Scotland Communications & Occasions Officer in Orkney, stated: “The variety of lifeless birds alongside our coastlines in Orkney is heart-breaking to see and the vary of affected species is inflicting a lot concern locally. As we head into summer season, increasingly individuals can have first-hand expertise of the devastation this virus is inflicting. There’s a sense regionally that individuals really feel helpless, however there are issues you are able to do. Security stays paramount and it is best to keep away from contact with any lifeless or dying birds, however please report them to the DEFRA helpline. It will assist give a clearer image of the scenario and inform how it’s handled. You can too attempt to be much more cautious than regular about not disturbing nesting or birds.”

Final winter HPAI devasted numbers of barnacle geese within the Solway with estimates of a lack of greater than a 3rd of the world’s Svalbard inhabitants.

This spring, Scotland’s globally vital seabird populations at the moment are bearing the brunt and fears are that the long-term influence on these species may very well be far more extreme.

Seabirds are long-lived, take longer to succeed in breeding age and have a tendency to supply fewer offspring than geese that means impacts of excessive grownup mortality on future numbers may very well be far more important and any restoration take far longer. But, seabirds already face many different important threats and lots of species have suffered extreme declines in numbers over latest many years.

RSPB Scotland believes that the Scottish Authorities should act now to each reply to the growing scenario with HPAI and to make sure measures are put in place to scale back the opposite threats confronted by Scotland’s seabirds.

Dr Paul Walton, Head of Species and Habitats for RSPB Scotland, stated: “Scotland’s seabirds are already dealing with a number of extreme pressures generated by individuals – local weather change, prey fish shortages, invasive species dropped at islands, mortality in fishing gear and poorly sited wind generators. These populations have halved for the reason that Nineteen Eighties. Now, a extremely mutable and lethal new type of avian influenza, which originated in poultry, is killing our wild seabirds in massive numbers. We urge the Scottish Authorities and NatureScot to develop a response plan urgently – to coordinate surveillance and testing, disturbance minimisation, carcass disposal and biosecurity.

Dr Walton continued: “In the long run, we urge a lot larger significance be given to prioritising and funding a nationwide programme of seabird conservation, so we construct resilience in these treasured populations to the pressures that we now have put them below.”

If you happen to come throughout lifeless or sick birds, don’t contact them and please report them as quickly as doable to the DEFRA helpline on 03459 33 55 77.  

You possibly can learn extra on this latest weblog.

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