Major bird flu outbreak suspected at North Cave Wetlands in East Yorkshire

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The North Cave Wetlands is a critical habitat for black-headed gulls. Credit: Amy Lewis

A major bird flu outbreak is suspected at a nature reserve in East Yorkshire after a number of wild birds were found dead.

The North Cave Wetlands has the largest black-headed gull colony in Yorkshire but staff have had to submit samples to test for avian flu following multiple deaths.

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT), which runs the site, said: "Our colleagues have never seen mortality this high before.

"If confirmed, this will be the most significant outbreak on a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve."

North Cave Wetlands is a nature reserve managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Credit: John Potter

YWT said it was also investigating other potential cases at other reserves, including Potteric Carr.

There are currently no plans to close the reserves but the trust said the situation was being closely monitored. Any visitors to the reserves are being asked not to touch sick, injured or dying birds.

YWT said: "This disease will have an impact on a species that has seen population numbers decline in recent years, and at a crucial time of year when the gulls should be raising young.

"At North Cave Wetlands, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust provides critical habitat for Yorkshire’s largest black-headed gull colony, which has grown in the last decade."

It comes after government measures to keep all poultry and captive birds indoors in England were lifted this month.

Wildlife organisations have continued to express concern about the risk of the disease spreading.

This week The Farne Islands in Northumberland announced it will remain closed until the end of the summer after avian flu was detected among the local bird population.

Last year, avian flu killed 6,000 birds on the islands.

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