5,000 Cranes Killed in Israel Bird Flu Outbreak

by Samantha Whidden

Authorities announced on Monday (December 27th) that more than 5000 cranes have reportedly been killed in Israel due to an apparent outbreak of bird flu.

According to ABC News, the bird flu outbreak began in northern Israel and has killed at least 5,200 migratory cranes. It has also forced farmers to slaughter hundreds of thousands of their chickens. Authorities stated this needed to be done in order to contain what they believe is the deadliest wildlife disaster in the nation’s history.

Senior scientist at the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, Uri Naveh, also stated that the bird flu situation is not under control. “Many of the birds are dead in the middle of the water body. So it’s difficult for them to be taken out.”

Tamar Zandberg, the Environmental Protection Minister in Israel, said the crisis is the most “serious damage” to wildlife in the history of the country. He then declared the extent of the damage caused by the disease is still unclear. 

Zandberg declared in her tweet, “The most serious damage to wildlife in the history of the country. 5000 cranes die from bird flu in the sick reedbed, and the extent of the damage is still unclear. I visited there today with representatives of the Nature and Parks Authority and the Jewish National Fund.”

Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority reports that along with the 5,000 cranes dead in the Hula Reed, another 30 have been found dead in the Jezreel Valley. The Sick Nature Reserve will remain closed until January 1, 2022. 

Israel Continues to Fight Against Mysterious Bird Flu

Dafna Yurista, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry, then confirmed that half a million chickens in the area were being slaughtered. This was to help prevent the disease from spreading.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office states officials from the agriculture, environment, and health ministries are monitoring the situation. There has yet to be any immediate information about infections among people. Naveh added that the clean-up is going more slowly than expected. “We are trying to see if there’s any other solutions.”

Meanwhile, Yaron Michaeli of Hula Lake Park, where the crane population is larger, states workers are removing carcasses as quickly as possible. The works were fearing that the disease could actually infect other wildlife. Michaeli noted that about 500,000 cranes pass through Israel each year. The cranes are usually on the way to Africa and a small number stay behind. Authorities believe that smaller birds carry the illness. That’s how the cranes got it. All of which had contact with farms suffering from outbreaks.

Workers in white hazmat suits began collecting the carcasses about 10 days ago. Michaeli said that the death toll among cranes appears to be stabilizing. “This is a good sign. They might be starting to get over this. We hope very much.”