Advice issued after dead gulls found on Cornwall beach test positive for bird flu

More than a dozen gulls were found on Marazion Beach. Credit: Google Maps

A number of herring gulls found dead on beaches in Cornwall have tested positive for bird flu.

They are the first confirmed cases of the disease ever to be recorded in Cornwall Wildlife Trust's marine strandings database.

The trust has since issued a warning about the "high risk" bird flu presents around the country.

On January 18 and 19, around 20 gulls were discovered by members of the public on Longrock Beach and a further 14 were found nearby on Marazion Beach.

Approximately 20 gulls were discovered on Longrock Beach. Credit: Google maps.

Five of the birds were sent to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) for analysis.

The agency has now confirmed all of them have tested positive for the disease. 

The trust’s marine conservation officer Abby Crosby has said the finding is cause for concern.

“It’s very sad to hear about this case, as with all strandings of dead animals found around our coastline", she said.

"Seabirds face numerous threats in our marine environment such as lack of prey, habitat loss and bycatch, so to hear this disease is also impacting populations is terribly upsetting.

"Unfortunately, we may hear of more stories like this in Cornwall as bird flu continues to be a high risk around the country", she added.

What to do if you find a dead wild bird

You should not pick up any dead or visibly sick birds. Instead, any dead wild birds - such as gulls or birds of prey - should be reported to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency will then collect some birds to carry out disease testing.