ITV News visits islands shut to public after wild bird colony hit by avian flu

ITV News correspondent Ben Chapman visits the Farne Islands, which are shut to the public in an attempt to stop the spread of avian flu across its internationally important seabird colony

What was once a tourist hotspot, with tens of thousands of visitors, is now completely shut to the public thanks to one deadly disease - avian flu.

The Farne Islands, which are home to vast numbers of puffins, terns, guillemots and eider ducks, are now locked down until the end of summer 2023.

It is hoped that limiting human contact will reduce the spread of the virus, according to the National Trust, which manages the seabird colony's home.

Access to the islands, off the coast of Northumberland, will now be limited to a small number of rangers who’ll monitor the birds and manage their habitat.

Last year rangers on the Farne Islands collected 6,000 birds which had been killed by avian flu. Credit: ITV News

ITV News correspondent Ben Chapman was one of the last visitors to the islands and had to wear a full hazmat suit to limit cross-contamination.

Avian flu ravaged the colony last summer - rangers found and disposed of more than 6,000 dead birds.

This year, there have been three confirmed cases.

The National Trust says the disease is the biggest danger to the islands since it started managing them a century ago.

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