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World Land Trust urges "don't use wild birds as scape goats"

8 February, 2007 - 00:00 -- World Land Trust

Halesworth-based international wildlife charity, the World Land Trust, has criticised the handling of the outbreak of avian flu in nearby Holton.

John Burton, the Chief Executive of the World Land Trust, who is also an experienced naturalist and ornithogist said "It is alarming that almost before any of the facts were known, wild birds were being identified as the probable culprits. The media constantly describes the Bernard Matthews Turkey factory as a farm, which would suggest to the public happy turkeys scratching around and interacting with skylarks, sparrows and other wildlife. The reality is very different: the turkeys are incarcerated in closed sheds, with almost no contact with the outside world and this means that infection can spread at dramatic and inevitable speed".

The World Land Trust is concerned that with the spread of avian flu, there is developing a paranoia about wild birds. "The public should realise that the problem lies with the way domestic animals are being kept."

Along with all other conservation organisations such as the RSPB, the WLT is concerned that the numbers of skylarks, songbirds and most other species have undergone dramatic and catastrophic declines in recent years, largely as a result of the intensification of agriculture.

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