Public warned not to touch or pick up infected ducks at the Salini Nature Reserve

Feral ducks at Salini are to be transferred so that Veterinary Regulation Directorate can directly monitor the infected birds

Ducks introduced at the Salini watercourse over the past decade are diseased and have to be removed
Ducks introduced at the Salini watercourse over the past decade are diseased and have to be removed

The veterinary authorities have warned people not to pick up or move the infected ducks at Salini as plans are underway to relocate them.

The ducks live in the watercourse along the Salini nature reserve and have tested positive to bird flu, an influenza subtype H6 (H6Nx).

While not dangerous to humans, the virus can be easily transmitted to other birds, posing a real danger to other migratory species and domestic poultry.

The feral waterfowls will be transferred from the Salina Nature Reserve to be kept under direct monitoring by veterinarians, the Veterinary Regulation Directorate said.

It stressed that nobody should pick up or move the birds without permission, to prevent the disease from transferring to other animals around Malta and Gozo.

The issue dates back to July 2018, when the Environment and Resources Authority had issued a stop notice, ordering the relocation of the ducks because they posed an environmental threat since they were not native to the site.

“It is noted that the ducks in question are feral domesticated ducks, which are not native to the Maltese Islands. They do not occur naturally in the area and their livelihood depends on external factors and human intervention, this causing major imbalances in the natural state of the water and biodiversity of the area,” ERA had said.

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