Two swans have been found dead at the River Arle in Alresford raising concerns over avian influenza.

Reports started to circulate on social media with people expressing their sadness.

This comes following the government lifting restrictions today (May 2) following the UK's largest ever outbreak of avian influenza.

In February, a poultry farm near Bishop’s Waltham contained the highly contagious H5N1 virus and had a 3km protection zone to restrict the movement of birds and a 10km surveillance zone to observe the condition of birds.

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HART Wildlife Rescue, an animal hospital in Medstead, posted on its Facebook page: “We are aware of multiple swans being found dead in Alresford. Please do not touch them. We have informed DEFRA and they should be attending. The risk of Avian Influenza is still high in the UK, even though the housing restrictions are lifted today.

“If you see any unwell or dead waterfowl in the surrounding area please let us know and you can also contact DEFRA directly.”

Paul Michael Reynolds, HART Wildlife Hospital manager, said: “Both swans are approximately 20m apart along the river Arle just down from the eel house in Alresford.

“The two swans, both have signs of injury to the neck and head, but as it is the third swan to have been found dead in the last few days we do need to be very cautious of avian influenza. Their deaths have been reported to DEFRA. 

“Swan Support, an organisation specialising in swans are coming to remove the bodies in the meantime, we checked on them this morning to confirm they had died. Due to the risk of avian influenza HART Wildlife Rescue cannot take them back to our establishment so we are happy that Swan Support who have a special facility for this have offered to remove the bodies. 

“We also attended a woodpigeon with a broken wing near to the site of the two swans, which was sitting next to a deceased pigeon and a mallard duck also with a broken wing about 100m down the river from the swans.”

A spokesman for DEFRA issued the following guidance: “Dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should be reported to the Defra helpline (03459 335577).

“Where dead birds are not required for surveillance purposes it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely dispose of the carcases as animal by-products.

“Where dead birds are on public land it is the local authorities responsibility to safely dispose of the carcases as animal by-products.

“The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

“Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.”

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