Bird flu outbreak kills 5,000 wild cranes in Israel

Around 5,000 wild cranes have been killed by a bird flu outbreak in northern Israel.

The dead birds were counted on Sunday at the Hula Lake Reserve, the Times of Israel reported.

It comes amid an avian flu outbreak that has seen more than half a million chickens and turkeys culled.

Tens of thousands of wild cranes migrate through Israel each year on their way towards Africa. Most stop in the Hula Valley, where the dead birds were counted.

Staff at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund counted another 250 dead cranes in the Hula Valley outside of the reserve, with another 30 found elsewhere, the paper said.

It reported that the INPA believes the disease was spread from Moshav Margaliot by a truck driver who delivered food to chicken coops and then brought food to the Hula Reserve.

An INPA spokesperson told AFP that in addition to the dead birds, around 10,000 are believed to be infected.

Uri Naveh, a senior scientist at the INPA, told the news wire that although the virus affects Israel annually, this year’s outbreak is much larger than those seen previously.

He said the number of dead cranes was “exceptional”.

The reserve is closed to the public until 1 January.

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