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ENVIRONMENT

Bird flu: French farmers ordered to keep poultry indoors

French farmers have been ordered to keep their poultry indoors due to the heightened risk of bird flu being spread by migratory birds.

French poultry farmers
French poultry is now on lockdown. Photo: Gaizka Iroz/AFP

The order published in France’s Journal officiel on Friday follows a similar measure adopted in the Netherlands last week after a case of the highly-contagious H5 strain of bird flu was discovered on a poultry farm and 36,000 birds were slaughtered as a protective measure.   

“The rising infection rate in migratory corridors justifies raising the risk level” for all of metropolitan France to “high”, said the order.

The French agricultural ministry said separately that 130 outbreaks of bird flu in wild fowl and farm poultry have been discovered since August in Europe.

So far no cases have been found among professional poultry farmers in France.

The French government hopes that the lockdown will help avoid a repeat of last year, when bird flu was found in nearly 500 locations, severely disrupting the production of foie gras from ducks in southwestern France.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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