A large outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu has killed more than 5,000 migratory cranes at the Hula Lake reserve in Israel.
“The most serious damage to wildlife in the history of the country. 5000 cranes die from bird flu in the sick reedbed, and the extent of the damage is still unclear. I visited there today with representatives of the Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and the Jewish National Fund,” said Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg.
The INPA speculated that the H5N1 spread from Moshav Margaliot, via a truck driver who delivered food to the Hula Reserve.
There were also speculations that children who had visited the reserve may have touched a sick crane and spread the virus throughout the reserve.
“It is now estimated that one-fifth of the crane population in Israel has been affected by bird flu,” said INPA scientific deputy director Uri Naveh.
Israeli authorities have now declared the Hula reserve off-limits to visitors and warned of a possible egg shortage because local poultry would have to be culled as a safety precaution.
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