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Bird flu confirmed at Northumberland roseate tern colony

Bird flu has been confirmed at the UK's only breeding colony for roseate terns.

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The RSPB said hundreds of seabirds had died on Coquet Island in Northumberland with several species affected.

The charity demanded the government "acts now" to formulate a plan to deal with avian influenza in wild birds.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was monitoring "the effect of avian influenza on wild birds species of conservation concern".

The RSPB says that although roseate tern numbers have recovered in recent years, it is still the UK's rarest nesting seabird.

The charity said the "new virulent" form of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) was having a "devastating impact" on wild birds, with tens of thousands affected around the world.

England operations director Jim Wardill said the government needed to lead on "developing and implementing national response plans for HPAI" in wild birds.

"It is vital to have a coordinated approach to surveillance and testing, disturbance minimisation and public messaging, along with a joined-up strategy regarding arrangements for the poultry sector," he said.

There also needed to be clarity on the process for collecting dead birds and long-term planning for future threats, he added.

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