Joint field teams to monitor bird flu in J&K

The Animal Husbandry and the Wildlife Protection departments have established joint field teams and Whatsapp groups to monitor “bird-flu spread” in Jammu and Kashmir.

Following the outbreak of bird-flu in neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh, the government declared J&K as ‘control area’, The Wildlife Protection and the Animal Husbandry departments have been monitoring the mortality of birds in the UT through joint field teams.

An official said that samples from the dead birds and droppings of the birds were collected by the teams. The Animal Husbandry department has sent the samples to Regional Diseases Diagnostic Laboratory at Jalandhar, Punjab. The report is expected within two days.

Meanwhile, in an official communication, Chief Wildlife Warden, J&K, Suresh Kumar Gupta has underlined the severe shortage of manpower in J&K and has sought help from the Forest Territorial Division.

“The staff of Territorial Divisions through Divisional Forest Officers can inform about death of birds noticed in or outside forest areas to the respective wildlife warden,” reads the official communication in which measures were suggested to counter the bird-flu.

As the Government of J&K gears up to deal with the situation, the government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Wildlife Division has also issued guidelines to enhance steps to control death of birds.

Cautioning against the bird-flu, the Union Ministry has stated: “Large number of migratory birds visit India during this season, the movement of birds to wetlands is also possible and it is requested to keep strict vigil on the wintering habitats of migratory birds, including wetlands, for any mortality or disease outbreak signs.”

Terming the situation as grave, the ministry has asked the States and Union Territories to take all possible measures to prevent the transmission of diseases in other animals/birds and human beings.

“We have established Whatsapp groups comprising officers from both the departments in Jammu as well as in Kashmir, and even at district level to keep check on the situation. We are reporting the situation twice a day,” said an official from the Wildlife Department.

There are 9 notified wetlands in Kashmir. Gharana is one of the important wetlands in Jammu district from where samples were collected and sent for testing in Punjab.

Pertinently, the Government has banned import of live birds, including poultry and unprocessed poultry meat into J&K till January 14.