Animal charity told to cull birds due to bird flu cases

The macaws are among the birds which had to be culled.

Parrots that were hand-reared by volunteers are among the birds which are to be culled at an animal charity following an outbreak of bird flu.

Wetheriggs Animal Rescue Centre, at Greta Bridge, between Richmond and Barnard Castle, has had to close temporarily after the deadly virus was found in poultry at the weekend.

The centre has been told it will have to cull all its 400 birds, including the macaws, as well as finches, parakeets and poultry.

Terry Bowes, director of the centre, said volunteers found several dead and dying chickens and Guinea fowl on Sunday.

Defra was immediately informed and two vets arrived the same day to perform post mortems and conduct tests.

These tests confirmed the birds had contracted the highly contagious virus.

Terry said the outbreak was devastating for everyone connected with the charity.

“I woke up this morning and thought ‘that was a bad dream’ but then realised it wasn’t a dream.”

However, Terry added they would not let the outbreak stop the good work done by the charity.

“We were having a trustees meeting when the positive tests came back.

“In that meeting we resolved to build back better.

“We’ll do that not just for the animals but also for the many volunteers who work with us at Wetheriggs who maybe have mental health problems or special needs.”

It is thought the birds contracted the disease from wild birds.

The centre had put in place precautions due to the national bird flu epidemic, including disinfectant matts for the public and staff to walk on.

Terry said they were waiting to hear how long they would need to shut for and what restrictions they would face when they reopen.

The closure means they have lost their income used for the upkeep of the surviving animals.

An urgent appeal ahs been launched to raise money to pay for food and the centre’s bills.

To donate, click here.


  1. The birds should have been kept in, as per Defras instructions. The charity is to blame for this situation!

      • They’ll be after all our pet budgies and parrots next. Ironic as this disease originated in hell hole poultry units in China and they introduced to to the wild.

  2. And yet hand reared pheasants are allowed to be released in their thousands- many of whom have bird flu and are spreading it to wild birds at their feeders. It’s disgusting- but these pheasants are considered wild birds when released so no restrictions on them. Yet again the shooting community has no regard for local wildlife for all their lying propoganda.

    • Absolutely Anonymous. I can’t believe there is no restriction on the release or shooting of pheasants and partridges. There is a large migrant population of geese next to where I live and every time there is a shoot they are scared off and may cause the spread of disease. Also, killed game birds are taken off site, possibly sold to supermarkets and butchers, again risking spread. I can understand grouse shooting being unrestrained as nothing touches the cruel, mass murderers of wildlife indulging in that revolting industry.

  3. I understand there are indoor birds kept in accordance with Defra guide lines. It’s almost as if Defra has a sadistic wish to kill everything possible and to cause as much unnecessary suffering to people and birds as they can. The same thing happened in the foot and mouth epidemic. No one’s pet sheep or cattle, even those kept indoors, were spared. One woman took all her 6 sheep into her cottage to keep them safe and even they were slaughtered. The badger destruction pays no hommage to science, spread of disease or innoculation just kill, kill, kill.

  4. The birds at Wetheriggs are kept indoors, and the charity is absolutely not to blame.

    DEFRA on the other hand have a complete disregard for science and nature. The birds with flu will die or a minority may survive. Those who haven’t caught it or survive it must have some better level of immunity. Surely it makes sense to let the birds which are more capable to deal with the disease survive? i.e. Let evolution take it’s course rather than engaging in mass murder.

    This is devastating for Wetheriggs. And it’s insanity that DEFRA has ordered this cull.

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