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Great White Pelican prepares to land in the Mishmar HaSharon reservoir in the Hefer Valley, central Israel

Israel Cutting Back on Feeding Migrating Pelicans to Keep New Bird Flu Outbreak Away

Pelicans migrate via Israel each summer to reach wintering grounds in Africa, normally starting to arrive in mid-August. They do not stay long before flying off to the Sinai Desert and continuing down the Nile to reach their winter ponds.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has stopped feeding migrating pelicans in the north of Israel this year, to reduce the chances of bird flu decimating concentrated flocks.

In December 2021, an outbreak of avian flu in the poultry industry spread to wild birds, a first. Among the victims were some of around 500 pelicans that had arrived toward the end of the pelican migration season, and had stopped in the Beit Shean area south of the Sea of Galilee.

Authorities believe that feeding programs designed to keep the pelicans and other birds away from agricultural fields and fish farms wound up concentrating them in a way that made it easy for one bird to infect another. Experts note that the exact way in which bird flu spread so rapidly among wild birds is not yet fully understood. (TOI / VFI News)