More than 1700 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh's Pong Dam sanctuary were found dead under mysterious circumstances. Most of the deaths were reported in Jagmoli and Guglada areas of Dhameta and Nagrota Surian forest.
The dead birds constitute endangered bar-headed goose, black-headed gull, river tern, common teal, and shoveler.
This comes after bird flu virus was detected in crows, whose carcasses were found in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Kunji Lal Meena, Rajasthan principal secretary, said that 47 crows have died in Kota, 100 in Jhalawar and 72 in Baran till now.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Hamirpur Division Rahul Rohane told India Today that 15 samples collected from different locations have been sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Uttar Pradesh's Bareily, Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL) in Jalandhar and High-Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal to learn about the case of death.
"We are expecting viral, bacterial and pathogen test reports within a couple of days. Till then, we cannot say the birds died of avian flu but we are initially suspecting it to be a flu as the birds are dying in large numbers," Rohane said.
Meanwhile, the state forest department has started flu surveillance in the wetland. The Dharamshala district administration has banned all tourist activities in and around the Pong Dam Sanctuary as a precautionary measure.
Every winter, the Pong dam is visited by 1.5 lakh migratory birds from 114 different species.
Bird Flu Scare In States
Amid the bird flu concerns in Rajasthan, State Principal Secretary, Rajasthan, Kunjilal Meena has said that a response team has been formed for surveillance purpose in various areas. "Pamphlet and posters will be put up to spread awareness among people," Meena said.
The bird deaths in Rajasthan began from December 25 in Jhalawar. Most deaths have been reported among crows, with most of them from Kota and Jodhpur.
The Jharkhand government has also issued an advisory to all districts to report unnatural deaths of birds to the animal husbandry department. They have been asked to send samples of such birds to laboratories.
Farm owners in Jharkhand have been directed to contact veterinary doctors in case of death of 10 birds or more at a time.
In Gujarat, more than fifty birds have died in Bantva Khara dam of a suspected flu.
Meanwhile, the Centre has written to state governments ordering them to take all necessary precautions to prevent transmission of the virus. It has directed the states to keep a check on wintering habitats of migratory birds and issued guidelines for reference.