Vulture death not due to bird flu

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Gangtok, Mar 13 (UNI) Officials of the Forest, Health and the Animal Husbandry department heaved a sigh of relief after the experts ruled out bird flu as the cause the recent mass death of vultures in Yambung vallye in West Sikkim.

The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in a message to the state Forest department said the deaths of the vultures were not due to avian influenza.

Around 33 vultures were found dead in the Yabung valley located about 1000 feet above the sea level in between January and February.

The deaths of the birds that concided with the reports deaths of hundreds of chicken in the country and abroad due to bird flu put the officials on their toe.

An worried government immediately sent the carcasses of the dead birds to Bhopal for laboratory test and banned the import of chicken and chicken products to the state as a preventive measure.

However, the laboratory did not specify the cause of the deaths.

Senior Wildlife Research Officer Usha Lanchungpa said the forest department was in touch with the Laboratory in Bhopal and had sent an expert team to the valley to find out the cause of the death.

The team would coordinate with the Joint Forest Management Commitee officials and the local NGOs to find out the exact cause of the death of the birds, she said.

UNI BD BA KLC1644

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