Shropshire animal rescue charity fears closure amid bird flu outbreak
An animal rescue centre in Shropshire fears it would have to close if avian flu spreads to the birds it cares for.
From today, all poultry and captive birds in England must be kept indoors under new restrictions to fight the disease, the government has announced.
About 5.5m birds have died or been culled since October 2021 - including 2.3m birds last month.
Fran Hill, of Cuan Wildlife Rescue, said they were facing a "catastrophic event".
Across the Midlands, cases of avian flu have been confirmed in Dudley, Coventry, Cheshire, Cheddleton, Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and Kidsgrove with suspected cases identified in Wolverhampton.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has urged members of the public not to touch injured or dead birds they come across.
For the rescue centre in Much Wenlock, it means they can no longer accept waterfowl and game birds in need of care, Ms Hill, the hospital manager said.
If the situation continues to escalate, she said they might not be able to look after any birds at all.
"It is a massive problem," she told BBC Radio Shropshire.
"If we had a case on site, it would be a catastrophic event - we would have to close our site and all of our birds would be culled.
"Depending on Defra, it would decide whether the rest of the animals on site would be culled also."
Anyone dropping off a bird at the centre is asked to park at the far end of the site where they will be met by a member of staff in personal protective equipment.
"It's incredibly tough, I deal with the birds onsite and now the room is empty. People are understandably reluctant to pick up birds at the moment," she added.
The rescue centre has also advised walkers to disinfect their shoes when returning home if they keep birds.