Bird deaths first noticed two months ago, claim villagers

Kangra MP’s house sanitised after dead pigeon found , toll rises to 3,410

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, January 7

Migratory birds started dying due to avian flu in the Pong Dam lake two months ago, claim residents of Sugnara village. Besides, the virus has also transmitted to the local population of birds such as jungle fowl, Mynah and crows, causing their mortality.

Sugnara village is located on the banks of the Pong Dam lake and many villagers are fishermen. A Tribune team visited the village today. Villagers said that besides the migratory birds, many local species of birds such as jungle fowl, crows and ‘mynah’ had also died mysteriously.

Pardeep Kumar, a fisherman, said that he started noticing dead birds in the lake about two months ago. About 20 days ago, the birds started dying in a large number and could be seen floating dead in the lake. “I had 50 hens and 45 of them died about 20 days ago,” he said. Asked how he disposed of the dead hens, Pardeep said that he buried them.

45 hens of villager perished

I started noticing dead birds in the Pong lake about two months ago. About 20 days ago, the birds started dying in a large number and could be seen floating dead in the lake. I had 50 hens and 45 of them died around 20 days ago. —Pardeep Kumar, Fisherman

‘My two goats may have died of virus’

I noticed dead ‘mugabis’ (bar-headed geese) in the Pong Dam lake about 25 days ago when I went for fishing. Thereafter, local birds such as crows and ‘mynahs’ also started dying. Two of my goats also died and I suspect that the deaths occurred due to avian flu. —Joginder Pal, Resident of sugnara village

Joginder Pal, another resident of Sugnara, said that he noticed dead ‘mugabis’ (bar-headed geese) in the lake about 25 days ago when he went for fishing. Thereafter, local birds such as crows and ‘mynahs’ also started dying. He added that two of his goats also died and he suspects that the deaths occurred due to avian flu. “I am going to a veterinary doctor today to get my goats checked,” he said.

There was panic and despair among the villagers. On the one hand, people faced a health risk while on the other, they lost their livelihood due to a ban on fishing.

Asked about the claims of the villagers that the migratory birds started dying two months ago, Upsana Patial, Chief Conservator Wildlife, Dharamsala, said that they first noticed dead migratory birds on December 28. They immediately informed the district authorities about the spread of the epidemic, she added. She added that earlier bird deaths might have been due to natural causes.

About the death of local birds and hens, she said that it was for the Animal Husbandry Department to look into the matter. Meanwhile, the death toll of migratory birds rose to 3,410. “All precautions are being taken to contain the spread of the virus by immediately disposing of the dead birds,” she added.

Kangra Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Prajapati said that Animal Husbandry Department teams had been directed to visit Sugnara village and verify the claims of the villagers. All steps were being taken to contain the spread of the virus, he added.

Meanwhile, a dead pigeon was found at the residence of Kangra MP Kishan Kapoor. A team of the Animal Husbandry Department visited his house and collected the carcass. A team of the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation also visited Kapoor’s house and sanitised it.

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