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Potential Avian Flu Threat: Birdcare Aotearoa Calls For Support

A highly contagious and deadly strain of avian influenza, commonly known as "bird flu," is feared to land in New Zealand for the first time. To cope with this potential outbreak BirdCare Aotearoa needs support.

"Bird flu," is caused by the H5N1 virus, which has been wreaking havoc across Asia and Europe, and has recently been detected on Subantarctic islands and the Antarctic mainland. The worry is that the avian flu could potentially enter the country through migratory birds such as bar-tailed godwits and red knots, which travel from the north or from Antarctica, where the virus was detected earlier this year. The virus has a particular mutation, which appears to broaden its host species and geographic range. Further, internationally, ducks have proven to be a carrier for the disease, spreading it across different habitats and species.

The virus has shown devastating effects on wild bird populations globally and has even jumped to mammals, including cats, bears, and recently dairy cattle in Texas. Avian influenza primarily spreads among birds but can infect humans. While these viruses do not easily transmit from person to person, their presence in poultry poses concerns due to their potential to cause severe illness and mortality. 

Last year, BirdCare was on the verge of closure, but thanks to the community’s generous support, they survived but the operation is still fragile. BirdCare will be at the ready if this disease arrives in Tāmaki Makaurau and they need help spreading their wings! If we all flock together we can protect NZ birdlife.

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BirdCare is entirely funded by grants and donations, and unfortunately, they have not secured funding for this looming threat and need to raise $300,000 to cover the following;

  • Specialised aviaries and upgrades for safe and effective rehabilitation.
  • Setting up a isolated ward for bird flu.
  • Purchasing extra quarantine supplies like gloves, medications, protective over-allsand N-95 masks.
  • Gallons of environmentally-safe broad-spectrum disinfectant, costing over $30,000 a year!
    BirdCare Aotearoa cares for up to 6,000 birds annually, with up to 400 birds in their facility on any given day. The hospital includes a Seabird Unit, General Ward, outdoor aviaries, and two specialist Nursery rooms, requiring skilled staff and dedicated volunteers to provide professional expertise. Operations run from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week, necessitating trained staff to supervise and support their team of 112 volunteers.

This could be devastating, and help is needed to ensure that if you or your whānau finds a bird in need, you have a place to bring it for expert, compassionate care.

Together, let’s continue to make a difference and keep our skies filled with beautiful birds” say Carl Ashworth, General Manager of BirdCare Aotearoa.

To help save our Birds of Aotearoa please visit their website: https://birdcareaotearoa.org.nz/urgentappeal/

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