Bird flu detected in dead White-Tailed Sea Eagle

Recently Fledged 'Eddie' the White Tailed Eagle, successful bred at Garnish Island, Glengariff, County Cork as part of the Reintroduction Programme. Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan

A white-tailed sea eagle, found dead in County Tipperary, has tested positive for the H5N6 strain of bird flu.

The bird was found dead on January 31st and the Department of Agriculture says the finding of H5N6 is not unexpected due to multiple detections in wild birds in Britain recently.

The white-tailed sea eagle was re-introduced to Ireland from 2007 with birds from Norway released in Killarney National Park.

Dr Allan Mee, who’s the project manager of the White-Tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme, said the bird fledged in Lough Derg last year; it was one of two chicks.

The bird was found dead on the north shore of the lake and is the first white-tailed sea eagle to have tested positive for bird flu in Ireland or Britain.

Dr Mee said the bird most likely scavenged on wild fowl which is the more common way for bird flu to enter Ireland.

The HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre says the risk to public health is very low and poses no food safety risk.

The Department of Agriculture has advised poultry owners that strict bio-security measures are necessary to reduce the risk of avian influenza entering their flocks.