CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is reiterating its call to the public to avoid catching wild birds so as to prevent the spread of another virus — H5N6 or bird flu—in Central Luzon.
It also appealed to the public to avoid hunting bird species for trade, consumption or to keep as pets to prevent the spread of bird flu.
Don Guevarra, DENR Central Luzon information officer, said the appeal was made as the government is currently racing against time looking for ways and means to check the spread of the pandemic COVID-19 in Luzon as well as in the whole country.
On the other hand, the bird flu virus has recently affected a quail farm in Nueva Ecija where migratory birds could have possibly made overhead flights on their way in and out of Central Luzon’s wetlands.
Guevarra said the World Health Organization reported that whenever avian influenza viruses are circulating in poultry, there is a risk for sporadic infection and small clusters of human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or contaminated environments.
On the other hand, Minerva Martinez, chief of the conservation and development division of DENR, explained that the detection of the avian influenza in Nueva Ecija last month means that we need to be especially careful in handling birds, as bird flu can be transmitted by birds to humans.
Central Luzon has 17 wetland areas spread over 16,000 hectares, notable among these are the Angat and Ipo watersheds in Bulacan; Candaba swamp in Pampanga; Uacon Lake in Zambales; Pantabangan watershed and Paitan Lake in Nueva Ecija;, Puerto Rivas in Bataan and Canarem and Tambo lakes in Tarlac, Guevarra noted.
He said these wetlands are being used as wintering refuge from birds coming from China, Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand during the months of October to March and most of these have already started returning to their countries of origins
Meanwhile, Arthur Salazar, DENR Central Luzon’s deputy director for technical services, said “It comes as no surprise for people, especially ones living near these wetlands or even rice paddies to encounter different wild birds close to their homes.”
The hunting of wildlife, including wild birds, is illegal and is punishable under Republic Act 9147 or “The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act”.
The DENR advised the public to avoid handling wild birds, especially those which seem sick or ones that are already dead and should any person encounter wild birds ,they are advised to avoid contact or to facilitate the bird’s release to prevent it from infecting domestic birds. (RONDA BALITA Online)