Calls to close Belfast Park due to pelican deaths

There have been calls to close a public park in Belfast after the discovery of dead and dying swans there linked to an outbreak of bird flu.

Politicians said they had received hundreds of calls since last week from members of the public angry at seeing ill and ill birds.

A number of dead swans have been recovered.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, has been confirmed among wild birds at the water station off the city’s Antrim Road.

It is a popular wintering spot for a wide variety of wild birds, including up to 100 swans as well as large numbers of gulls and geese.

Sean Patrick Cummins, a volunteer at an animal sanctuary, said he worries that if nothing is done, all the pelicans in the park could be wiped out.

«We can get the healthy people out, otherwise we won’t have swans by the end of Christmas in this park and it will take years to rebuild again.»

Avian influenza is transmitted by migratory birds and poses a threat every winter

There have been several confirmed cases of avian influenza in commercial poultry flocks on both sides of the border. This resulted in the culling of many turkeys, chickens and ducks on a large scale.

Migratory birds transmit the virus and it poses a threat every winter. It can easily spread to both commercial and wild birds.

Sinn Féin board member Conor Maskey said he was trying to get guidance from officials on how best to handle the problem at Waterworks.

He said closing the park and culling sick birds were options that should be considered.

«For now, the directive is to do nothing until the swans die. I don’t think that’s acceptable.»

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