Bird flu forces Farne Islands to shut to visitors


The Farne Islands has been shut to visitors due to a bird flu outbreak for the second year in a row.

Last year, 6,000 seabirds were found dead by rangers at the islands. The islands will remain closed to the public until the breeding season concludes at the end of August.

Arctic Tern is one of the species impacted by avian flu on the Farnes (Richard Greenwood).

National Trust ranger Harriet Reid said there was a "strong likelihood" last year's outbreak could be repeated. "Sadly, with confirmed cases, there is a strong likelihood that we will see thousands of birds affected by the virus again this year."

She added birds could be given the "best chance of survival" by restricting access to the islands. The charity has confirmed three cases of avian flu as more seabirds return for this year's breeding season.

Although visitors will not be able to land on the Islands, local boat firms in Seahouses will continue to operate tours around them. Rangers will continue to monitor the breeding birds to understand how many breeding pairs return and how many chicks fledge.

Last year, Guillemots and Kittiwakes were affected the most, with the bodies of 3,542 and 818 dead birds collected respectively.