Volunteers at an animal rescue centre say they are struggling to keep up with the number of birds being abandoned because of fears about avian flu.Amanda O'Brien – the owner of Feathers, Paws and Claws in Tealby, Lincolnshire – said the outbreak had prompted an influx of poultry.
Ms O'Brien said: "Some will message asking for help and others will just dump them in a local woods or park."It’s been so difficult and it's even more challenging trying to catch hens and cockerels when they are completely free but we have to try and do this quickly before they fall prey to foxes."Over the Christmas period, we even had seven cockerels in a chicken crate dumped over our fence and this period has seen admissions skyrocket."
Ms O'Brien, who is appealing for donations to support her work, said: "It’s been tough. All of the birds we have are now under cover to make sure they are as safe as possible because of the avian flu."With the amount of people dumping cockerels now, we just can’t keep up."People are dumping whole flocks of chickens wherever they wish at times which is heartbreaking."
Bird flu in Lincolnshire
The H5N1 virus was first confirmed in Lincolnshire on 11 December. There have been 12 outbreaks in the county, with exclusion zones in place at several sites.
It has led to hundreds of thousands of birds being culled.
There have also been a number of cases in North Yorkshire.
What is bird flu and how does it spread?
Avian flu spreads among birds and is often fatal, but some strains can – in extremely rare cases – pass to people.
It usually requires close contact with an infected bird, so the risk to humans is generally considered very low. Human to human transmission of bird flu is very rare.
The main symptoms include:
A very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery
A cough or shortness of breath