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Bruges removes canal swans after bird flu outbreak

Credit: Mercedes Van Volcem/Facebook

The city of Bruges has cleared its signature canals out of hundreds of the swans that inhabit them in order to shelter them from the avian flu.

Some 120 swans were plucked out of the canals of the picturesque Flemish city and transported to protected municipal areas.

The move came after an outbreak of the avian flu was detected among wild birds in the coastal city of Ostend, according to a local councillor, Mercedes Van Volcem.

Bruges Mayor Dirk De fauw told the AFP that the city had decided to pull the birds, a common tourist attraction, to keep them “safe from birds who are sick.”

“They are now being transferred to two special locations with a pond in Bruges,” Van Volcem wrote on Facebook. “When the weather is safe and the danger has gone, the swans may return.”

The move to shelter the birds in Bruges comes after neighbouring France and Germany announced culling operations of tens of thousands of farm chickens, while in the Netherlands, authorities said they would cull as many as 200,000.

To be able to catch the birds, the city stopped feeding them for five days, to make it easier for municipal employees to capture them after luring them with feed.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times