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Fears over surge in abandoned 'lockdown' chickens
"It's really important that owners follow Government biosecurity advice" - Kate Parkes, RSPCA.

Avian flu could lead to more owners abandoning their pets, warns RSPCA.

Dozens of hens and cockerels have been abandoned in recent weeks, sparking fears that charities and rescue centres will soon be overrun with unwanted chickens.

Figures released by the RSPCA show that the charity has dealt with 1,594 incidents related to chickens across England and Wales so far this year, and has had abandonment incidents relating to 1,562 birds.
The charity has also taken 280 chickens into its centres for rehoming.

Many people went out and purchased chickens at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, in part over concerns about egg shortages, but also because people were spending more time at home.

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “Concerns were raised during lockdown about the increase in pet acquisition and ownership, and we feared that people would soon lose interest and start to hand their animals over once life started to return to normal.

“In the spring, many hen producers reported huge surges in demand for chicks and we believe this may be because people panic bought birds due to shortages of eggs in the supermarkets but, due to the shops being better stocked, are now ‘surplus to requirement’.
There are also concerns that some families may have taken on unsexed chicks, which have grown into noisy cockerels so are now being abandoned.”

In recent weeks, bird keepers have been required to keep their birds inside under new measures to tackle a highly pathogenic strain avian influenza (HPAI H5N8). But
the RSPCA fears these new measures, which came into force on December 14, could fuel the surge in abandoned hens and put yet more pressure on rehoming centres.

Kate Parkes, poultry welfare specialist at the RSPCA, said: “It’s really important that owners follow Government biosecurity advice to help protect the health of their birds as well as to try and limit the spread of the virus.

"All pet poultry owners need to stay vigilant for signs of disease and ill-health in their flocks, and it’s vital they seek veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds. We’re concerned that worries about bird flu and changes to how we’re allowed to keep hens may lead to more owners abandoning their pets, putting more pressure on rescue centres.”

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Born Free video highlights how humans are to blame for COVID-19

News Story 1
 Wildlife charity Born Free has released a video emphasising the importance of changing the ways in which humans treat wildlife in order to prevent pandemics from occurring in the future.

The video, narrated by founder patron Joanna Lumley OBE, says: "To deal with the very immediate threat of another global catastrophe, we have to focus on ending the destruction and conversion of natural habitats and the devastating impact of the wildlife trade.

"The vast majority of these viruses originated in wild animals before infecting us. Destroying and exploiting nature puts us in closer contact with wildlife than ever before."

Born Free has compiled an online resource with information on how to take action and improve protections for wildlife here.

To view the video, please click here.

Images (c) Jan Schmidt-Burbach. 

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RVC opens 2021 Summer Schools applications

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has opened applications for its 2021 Summer Schools, with students in Years 10, 11 and 12 invited to apply.

Taking place between July and August 2021, the event gives budding vets from all backgrounds first-hand insight into what it's like to study at the Campus.

Much of this year's content is likely to be delivered virtually, including online lectures and practical demonstrations, but the RVC hopes to welcome each of the participants to campus for at least one day to gain some hands-on experience.

For more information about the Schools and to apply, visit: rvc.uk.com/SummerSchools Applications close on the 2 March 2021.