Northern Ireland news

Belfast park closed due to avian flu outbreak

Distressing scenes in north Belfast's Waterworks Park where dozens of birds are affected by bird flu. Picture Mal McCann.
Rebecca Black, PA

A Belfast park has been closed following an outbreak of avian flu.

Sixteen dead birds have been removed from Waterworks Park in north Belfast, the city council said.

The council added that the park has been closed until further notice.

In a statement, the local authority said: “We have engaged an independent expert to review our approach and management plan to deal with this ongoing issue.

“We are also arranging for an on-call vet to be available to assess sick and dying birds and, if required, humanely euthanise these birds.

“As the outbreak continues to escalate across Northern Ireland, as a precautionary approach the Waterworks Park will close until further notice.

“We’re continuing to work alongside and seek advice from the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) and the Public Health Agency in response to this issue.

“We would ask the public not to visit Waterworks Park at this time as we continue to manage the ongoing situation.”

Distressing scenes in north Belfast's Waterworks Park where dozens of birds are affected by bird flu. Picture Mal McCann.

This week, animal rescue volunteer Sean Cummins called on environmental authorities to urgently address the mounting death toll of birds in the Belfast park.

Mr Cummins told The Irish News that the scenes he has witnessed in the Waterworks in recent weeks are "deeply distressing" as dozens of swans, birds and geese are suffering and being "dumped in bins and supermarket trolleys".

"This has been going on for weeks but in the past 14 day I have seen the deaths," Mr Cummins said.

"The birds are in terrible pain, they are spinning around because the virus has caused their brains to swell and they are confused. They are then drowning. They shouldn't be going through this, it's inhumane.

"There are so many families coming in here but there doesn't seem to be proper advice on what to do with the birds, it's being passed from from one authority to another."

Local business owner Sean Cummins has been watching the scenes in north Belfast's Waterworks Park where dozens of birds are affected by bird flu. Picture Mal McCann.

Last week, a suspected case of avian flu was detected in Co Tyrone.

Some 27,000 affected ducks were culled and temporary control zones were introduced at the commercial premises in Aughnacloy.

There have also been a number of confirmed cases in wild birds across Northern Ireland.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has warned the threat from avian flu in the region “will be more significant in the months ahead”.

Members of the public are encouraged to report dead waterfowl – swans, geese or ducks – or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, to the Daera helpline on 0300 200 7840.

Bird feeding in the Waterworks in North Belfast Picture by Hugh Russell.

A dead bird pictured at the Waterworks in north Belfast has raised concerns about public safety

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