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Migratory birds come under microscope
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-11 05:47

Forestry authorities have stepped up surveillance of migratory birds to prevent and control the spread of bird flu.

Migratory birds are believed to have carried the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, which killed 6,000 wild geese in May in Qinghai Province and caused six bird-flu outbreaks in four provinces since last month.

Two outbreaks of bird flu have been reported in Fuxin and Jinzhou, both in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, where the previous case was also detected.
Premier Wen Jiabao shakes hands with a health worker during an inspection tour of bird flu prevention and control in Heishan, Liaoning Province November 8, 2005. [Xinhua]

China plays host to a quarter of the world's migrating birds and a fifth of all species. Of the eight major global migration routes, three pass through China the Central Asia-India, East Asia-Australasia and West Pacific routes.

"The paths cover most parts of the country," Wang Wei, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration's (SFA) Department of Wildlife and Forest Plant Protection, said yesterday.

The ministry has activated 118 national monitoring sites in nature reserves and bird-banding centres in recent months, and the number will rise to 300 next year, Wang said.

Along with 400 provincial monitoring sites, the system covers major migration routes, stopover habitats and breeding areas.

Any sick or dead bird will be tested and reported to the system's headquarters in Shenyang, Northeastern China's Liaoning Province.

Vigilance and surveillance, however, do not mean protection of migratory birds should be abdicated, said the SFA.

Amidst growing fear of bird flu, some people have driven wild birds away from their stopover habitats or even killed them, Wang said.

"I am worried about the over-reaction. Some people even ate them. This is very dangerous for endangered species and the ecosystem."
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