Bird flu virus in Great Britain and endangered migratory species

According to a report by the British Trust for Ornithology and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, since the attack of the bird flu virus in 2021, Great Britain has lost, among others, over 75% of the great skua population. The virus has also caused a 21% decline in the population of roseate terns – the species is the rarest breeding seabird in the UK, with only one regular breeding colony. The British Isles also hosts half of the world’s gannet population, whose numbers have decreased by 25% in the study sites. In Wales alone, the number of nesting individuals of this species has fallen by 54%. In October 2023, scientists confirmed that some wild birds had developed immunity to bird flu, but the sample size was small, and it is unclear how long immunity would last.

UN experts say that more than ⅕ of internationally protected migratory species, including almost all nomadic fish, are at risk of extinction. 44% of the 1,189 species listed in the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals are in decline, and 22% are at risk of extinction. As many as 97% of sharks, rays and sturgeons on the list are at high risk of extinction, and their population has declined by 90% since the 1970s. Overcoming artificial barriers (e.g. fences, roads), hunting and light pollution are just factors that threaten animals. Climate change also contributes to the situation, disrupting weather patterns that help animals know when to migrate.

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