AN URGENT appeal has been launched by Wychbold Swan Rescue centre which has been hit hard by Avian Flu on top of the impact of the pandemic.
The charity has been unable to raise funds over the past 18 months and then it had to euthanise 60 swans, geese and ducks after the disease found its way into the centre.
It is unclear how the infection at the rescue centre started – there is netting over the the top to prevent wild birds from landing inside but it had received numerous calls to rescue swans which were either injured or not very well.
Volunteer John Stewart contacted the Standard to ask for readers’ help.
He said: “As you can imagine, we are devastated by recent events.
“Our beloved birds have had to be euthanised after testing positive for avian influenza – we can’t believe this has happened again.
“It was a nasty condition – you could see their necks dropping and them going around in circles.”
The centre informed DEFRA (the Department of Food and Rural Affairs) and put together an action plan.
Items and equipment was bagged up and taken from the sanctuary and volunteers have to change clothes and disinfect wellington boots every time they leave or return the centre which has led to added expense they did not need.
The centre has been completely disinfected and then it will have to be done again after seven days and then there needs to be a 56-day gap with no Avian Flu before it will be able to reopen again. It is currently closed and cannot accept any further birds.
The disease is highly infectious and people have been warned to take care in areas with wild birds as it can be spread as easily as on the soles of shoes.
Wychbold Swan Rescue has been running for more than 40 years, assisted by excellent veterinary support to help treat the birds it cares for so they can be nursed back to health and released back into the wild.
A fund-raising page has been set up here – justgiving.com/wychbold-swan-rescue – and more information is available on the Wychbold Swan Rescue Facebook page.