THE Balearic bird flu commission agreed yesterday to increase the number of random tests it makes on wild birds, following the first confirmed case of bird flu in Spain. It also decided not to re-establish the restrictive measures which were put into practice over the winter.
Joan Carles Torrens, the director general for agriculture, announced yesterday that the environment ministry will increase the testing of birds, which was originally to have been less intense between June 20 and October 1, under the national bird flu plan. Torrens said that the controls would be carried out in high risk areas such as the Albufera in Majorca, a major centre for migratory birds, and the surrounding municipalities, as well as Son Navata in Felanitx and the Salobrar in Campos in Majorca; Es Grau and Lluriach in Minorca; Ses Salines in Ibiza and two lagoons in Formentera. The commission decided to maintain the suspension of the restrictive measures established in the winter, so that in the Balearics, birds can be displayed in markets, doves can be released during fiestas and farmyard poultry can be raised out of doors. But, Torrens warned, “if there are any incidents, new agreements will be made.” Last weekend, local residents reported to the emergency service 112 the finding of ten dead birds, but none of the deaths was attributed to bird flu.
Torrens said that in some cases, inspectors were sent out to where the birds were found, but in most of the cases it was evident that death had been caused by being hit by a vehicle or malnutrition. He added that since June 20, eight wild birds found dead had been examined but all the tests proved to be negative. He also said that the National Animal Alert Commission was due to meet today to analyse the situation further. The bird flu case was confirmed last week in Avila on the mainland, in a greater crested grebe.
A spokesman for the environment group GOB said that there are only three or four pairs of this species in the Albufera in Majorca.

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