People warned against feeding wild birds amid avian flu scare

Taipei--Several cities have warned the public not to feed wild birds in parks, at risk of stiff fines, amid an avian flu scare.

The Taipei City government has stepped up its campaign, posting warning signs in 14 of the city's bigger parks.

City officials said people could be exposed to bird excrement when feeding the birds, increasing the risk of infection.

As the feeding could also pollute the environment, bird feeders could face fines of between NT$1,200 (US$39) and NT$6,000 for violation of the Waste Disposal Act, the officials said.

The Taichung City government said Saturday that it will step up inspections of its parks, and said that people who do not heed the warning and feed birds will face fines of up to NT$10,000.

The Tainan City government issued a similar warning Saturday, urging the public to keep away from birds or face fines.

Tainan has also disinfected locations frequented by wild doves, and has stepped up a crackdown on people feeding birds in public areas.

Since Feb. 6, 11 farms in Hualien, Tainan, Chiayi and Yunlin have been confirmed as having been infected with the highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza virus, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture.

The outbreak of H5N6 has put authorities on high alert because it is both highly contagious and transmittable to humans.

The government banned the transportation of poultry for seven days starting on Feb. 17, as part of ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the disease.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel