Calabarzon heightens ‘watch’ on migratory birds

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has heightening its watch over migratory birds as an offshoot of the avian influenza or the bird flu outbreak several days ago in a town of Pampanga.

Arturo E. Fadriquela, DENR Calabarzon assistant regional director for management services, said on Thursday that their regional office has tightened the “bird watch” over migratory birds and sites in the region.

In the Calabarzon region, DENR has identified around 45 migratory bird sites with three in Cavite; nine in Batangas; 10 in Laguna; and 23 in Quezon. Calabarzon Region comprises the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon
The DENR’s monitoring of migrant bird and migratory bird sites here is in sync with the advisory of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) on the temporary ban on the movement of live domestic and wild birds, including products like poultry meat, eggs, semen and manure, from Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao.

“While the poultry part of the issue is under the mandate of DA, our concern here is the wild migratory birds,” said Oliver Viado, DENR Calabarzon Conservation and Development Division.

Viado said the watch on migratory birds stemmed from a directive of the DENR central office to closely monitor migratory bird sites “so as to check whether there are any incidences of wild bird die out.”

He said the Department always implements the “no touch” protocol whenever they observe dead wild birds, and reports such observation to the DA.

He added DENR Calabarzon is directed to suspend the issuance of all transport permits for any wild bird species to and from Pampanga and nearby provinces.

Viado said they have already alerted all wildlife traffic monitoring unit checkpoints in Calabarzon to strictly enforce measures and to stop and immediately report occurrence of wild bird transport passing through or in the region.

“As of now, bird flu incidence is not yet observed in the Calabarzon Region since the outbreak in Pampanga, but we urge the public to immediately report to the DA any observation of dead wild birds and poultry,” Viado said.

Meanwhile, the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) also released an advisory calling on the public to help protect migratory birds as these species are not the culprit of the flu but rather a victim, like some domestic birds.

The DENR-BMB strongly advised the public to stop culling, poisoning or chasing away migratory birds as these practices are proven ineffective and counterproductive.

DENR also cautioned the public to avoid handling any sick or dead wild birds; and separate poultry and domestic animals from wild birds and other wildlife.

Czarina Maria Gandeza, officer-in-charge of the DENR regional strategic communication and initiatives office, told PNA here that they have launched their information campaign through various media outlets on the bird flu epidemic particularly on migrant and wild birds.

Gandeza said the public should also be aware that migratory birds are species that constantly migrate to various countries and continents in order to survive, and these are frequently sighted in the region.

She added the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) studies that wild migratory water birds worldwide naturally carry these viruses but in a low pathogenic and harmless form.

However, these viruses can turn into a harmful, high pathogenic form when such bird species come in contact with a crowded and unhygienic poultry farm. The harmful virus can quickly spread among the poultry and wild birds, and may cause its death.
DENR officials here explained that in the Philippines, the bird migration season is from late September this year to March next year.

These birds stay along wetlands such as swamps, marshes, intertidal and coastal areas, rivers, ponds, lakes and forests. Saul E. Pa-a/PNA-northboundasia.com