UK bird rescue sanctuary hit by Fear of Flu

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    Martin W

      The fearmongers strike again!

      A bird sanctuary in Greater Manchester is reporting a big fall in visitor numbers due to fears over avian flu. The Three Owls is open 24 hours a day tending to the thousands of injured birds brought to its doorstep every year mainly from the North West. About 10,000 people annually visit the sanctuary in Norden, Rochdale, helping to provide much-needed income. However, manager Nigel Fowler said that visitor numbers were dramatically down for this time of the year. …

      "Visitor numbers have dropped off because people don't want to come where birds are associated," said 36-year-old Mr Fowler. "At this time of the year, we should be getting probably 60 to 70 people round every Sunday, which is the main visiting day, and we are currently down to perhaps a dozen people. "We have had some groups who have previously booked and said they are not coming now because of what's happening. …

      "It's a big blow because it makes up a pretty big chunk of our income and we rely on that income. Obviously, takings are down in the shop because people aren't coming into the visitors' centre to have a look round. "It means doing extra fund raising away from the sanctuary to try to bring the money in other ways just to keep things ticking over until hopefully this blows over." The sanctuary has been asked by the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) to produce a record of all the birds at the sanctuary.

      – as I post this, Hong Kong's Mai Po Marshes reserve remains closed, for reasons that seem more political than science-based. Again, major revenue losses.

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