A bird flu outbreak has killed more than 5,000 migratory cranes in Israel. The country has killed hundreds of thousands of chickens to prevent avian influenza from spreading, the environment minister said.
In the last few days, rangers in protective suits have collected crane carcasses from a lake in the northern Hula Nature Reserve. Authorities have declared the popular nature reserve off-limits to visitors.
“We are here at Hula Valley, at the Hula reservoir in the midst of a serious outbreak of bird flu which hurts the cranes,” Israeli Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg said.
“This is the worst blow to wildlife [in Israel] ever. There are thousands of cranes which already died, and we still don’t know the further spreading amongst the other wildlife, water sources,” she continued.
Israeli media reported that children who had visited the reserve may have touched a sick crane and spread the virus. Zandberg said that bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a “contagious disease which hurts humans too.” The virus has been spreading through Asia and Europe.
Authorities have also killed hundreds of thousands of chickens at farms, bred purely for the food industry, to prevent bird flu from spreading in Israel, Zandberg said.
Animal welfare organizations and some politicians have called for urgent changes in the animal farming industry to prevent the next pandemic, which could be caused by bird flu.
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