Wednesday, August 10, 2022
NewsAnimal NewsNatureScot announces new task force in response to avian flu crisis

NatureScot announces new task force in response to avian flu crisis

NATURESCOT has announced the creation of a new task force in response to the avian flu crisis sweeping bird populations in Scotland.

The Scots nature agency will lead the new group in an effort to combat the flu that is devastating vulnerable seabirds across the country.

The group will come together this month and draw on experience from across government, conservation organisations, local authorities and the research community to drive forward a collective response to the crisis.

The task force will initially focus on sharing expertise and co-ordinating action to tackle the current outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian flu.

Gannets sitting on bass rock.
Avian influenza is sweeping the wild seabird populations in Scotland. (C) Danni Thompson (Image supplied with release by NatureScot.

NatureScot has said that their key priorities will include planning for an effective response to potential future outbreaks and variants and taking action to help protect and restore bird populations and improve their resilience.

NatureScot chief executive Francesca Osowska said: “The avian flu crisis has been rapidly evolving and deteriorating.

“Tragically, this disease could be with us for some time to come, with early evidence confirming avian flu has moved into our urban gull and raptor populations, developments we and partners are monitoring closely.

“Responding to this crisis involves a national endeavour, and this task force will bring together partners who are already doing fantastic work, to better share expertise and co-ordinate action on the ground.

“In the long-term we know this is an international crisis which requires an international response.

“As we look ahead to the biodiversity COP15 in Montreal this December, protecting and restoring our biodiversity will have a key role to play in our response and resilience to viruses such as avian flu.

“Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, which is currently out for consultation, is responding to this challenge, setting out ambitious plans to halt biodiversity loss by 2030 and reverse it by 2045.”

NatureScot is also forming a sub-group of our Scientific Advisory Committee to provide further support on surveillance, monitoring and related research that is crucial to helping our wildlife’s resilience against future viruses.

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