J&K bans import of poultry till Jan 14 after 161 birds found dead in two districts

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has imposed a ban on the import of poultry in the wake of growing cases of bird flu in the Union Territory. The ban was announced on Thursday and comes into effect from Friday and it will remain in force till January 14.

Principal secretary of animal, sheep husbandry and fisheries department Navin K Choudhary said, “The J&K government has imposed a complete ban on import of live birds including poultry and unprocessed poultry meat for any purpose into the Union territory of J&K with immediate effect till January 14. The decision will be reviewed based on the evolving situation.”

Answering a query, he said, “The field staff has been visiting poultry markets across the UT to conduct checks and they are also lifting samples from the markets as well as wetlands. There is no ban on the sale of poultry because there are no reports of contamination so far. If such a situation emerges then we will act accordingly.”

Jammu’s wildlife warden Anil Atri said, “On Thursday our teams lifted samples from various enclosures of birds at Manda Wildlife Sanctuary in Jammu. Their samples have also been sent to Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar for testing.”

Atri said that wildlife sanctuaries and zoos were still open to visitors in the UT but enclosures of birds have been closed.

It may be stated here that 161 birds that include 153 crows have died so far in Jammu’s Udhampur and Rajouri districts.

At least 153 crows were found dead on Wednesday in Udhampur district and eight birds were found dead on Tuesday in Rajouri district.

“The samples of dead crows have been sent to the laboratory in Jalandhar. Droppings of 25 bar-headed geese from Gharana wetland along the international border in RS Pura of Jammu district have also been sent to Jalandhar. The reports are awaited,” said Ranjeet Katoch from the animal and sheep husbandry department.

Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve in the R S Pura sector near the international border was notified in 1981 and is home to more than 170 species of birds like bar-headed geese, gadwalls, common teals, purple swamp hens, Indian moorhens, black-winged stilts, cormorants, egrets and greenshanks.

During the winter, the wetland is visited by thousands of birds from Central Asia and some of the migratory bird species visiting this wetland are endangered.

Katoch, however, said that considering the mass mortality of crows in Udhampur, the possibility of avian influenza could not be ruled out.

A bird flu alert has been sounded in states, including Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat, which are already fighting the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic

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