Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Stone Age bird flu control and its opposite

Two stories from Russia about shooting birds.
Veterinary officials in Russia's Far East Monday said wild birds would be shot and tested for the H5N1 flu virus.

Five crows and five seagulls will be shot every day April 3-17 near residential areas in nine southern and central districts of Sakhalin, as well as in the Southern Kuril islands, a deputy head of the Regional Hunting and Game Administration said.

"Representatives of veterinary services will draw blood samples for testing," Andrei Zdorikov said, adding that all the birds shot would be destroyed the same day.

He also said regional authorities would allow spring hunting in areas that had been off-limits to hunters until now, specifically along the banks and valleys on the Sakhalin Island.

"We propose that the spring hunting season begin May 6-15 for migratory water fowl and May 12-21 for wood fowl," he said.

Sakhalin administration officials said they believed spring hunting would help scare birds away from residential areas and prevent the spread of bird flu. (RIA Novosti)
Sakhalin Island is a Northern Pacific island, disputed territory between Russia and Japan. It has been inhabited since the Neolithic (New Stone Age).

Then there's this, from the Kamchatka Peninsula, a bit further to the east but on the Russian continent (look at the map to see how this works):
Wildfowl hunting has been banned on the Kamchatka Peninsula as a measure of bird flu spread prevention. The decision to introduce the ban was made by the Kamchatka regional emergencies commission.

Mass migration of birds begins on the peninsula in the middle of April. Up to 10 million migratory birds fly here from countries where bird flu cases have been registered. (Itar - Tass)
Kamchatka used to be a target for the Russian missile testing program.

The good news is that Sakhalin is an island, so when the hunters get infected with H5N1 the Russians can more easily cordon off the island. The bad news is that the Sakhalin decree is the kind of idiotic thing that's going to happen.

Nearby Kamchatka shows it doesn't have to happen if you aren't still in the Stone Age.