Authorities have flagged a public health risk after hundreds of ducks infected with avian flu and salmonella died at Salina in recent weeks.
Concern was raised about the state of the ducks in recent days, with some claiming they were dying because their water source was fermenting in the heat.
However, tests carried out by the Veterinary and Plant Regulatory Division said it is clear that the ducks are infected with avian flu and salmonella and therefore don’t only pose a risk to wildlife and the environment, but also to public health and food, due to possible transmission of such diseases to domesticated poultry species, which were also released in the same area.
The Environment Ministry said it is in consultation with the Veterinary and Plant Regulatory Division in order to decide on a plan of action for the removal of these ducks.
“It is noted that the ducks in question are feral domesticated ducks, which are not native to the Maltese Islands,” the Environment and Resources Authority said. “They do not occur naturally in the area and their livelihood depends on external factors and human intervention, this causing major imbalances in the natural state of the water and biodiversity of the area.”
“Such feral domesticated ducks cause direct environmental damage by altering the habitat where they live, degrading it, and increasing the risks of nutrient enrichment and water contamination. Indeed, the ducks, their droppings and uneaten introduced food sources are leading to water contamination, leading to an increase in nutrients and eutrophication episodes (such as red tides).”
“Such episodes are very damaging to protected wildlife in the area as they may lead to the death of fish and other wildlife, including protected species, as well as other unwanted environmental and health consequences.”
“Besides being introduced there and the damage indicated, other ancillary non-authorised alterations were also carried out in the site (which lies in a protected area) to accommodate the domesticated ducks.”
“In view of these environmental issues, ERA has also issued a Stop and Compliance Order (OWK) on this matter earlier on, which was followed up through such tests.”