Black-legged kittiwake lives along the coast of Finnmark and the Kola Peninsula. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Bird flu outbreak hits Barents Sea coast

Reports are coming in about hundreds of dead birds from Hammerfest in the west to Murmansk in the east.
July 15, 2023


People and pets are banned from an area in Ura Guba, just west of Murmansk, as veterinary authorities fear the virus can be transmitted to humans.

“The area of focus is the coastline of Ura Guba to the Barents Sea and the mouth of Ura River,” the operational headquarters in Murmansk informs, according to news online B-Port.

A zone with a radius of five kilometers is closed and guards are in place round-the-clock.

Mass death of gulls are reported and tests confirm the deaths are caused by the bird flu virus. The Committee for Veterinary Medicine in Murmansk region urges residents only to buy poultry meat from authorized places of trade.

Further east, in the Komi Republic, restrictive measures are introduced after an outbreak of the bird flu on the banks of the Vychegda River, Izvestia reports.

On the Norwegian side of the border, along the coast of the Varanger Peninsula, more than 800 dead birds are found in recent days, NRK reports. Municipal authorities in Vadsø are collecting dead birds and state that what now happens is an environmental catastrophe.

“It doesn’t look like we’ve cleaned [dead birds] at all, because new birds are dying all the time,” says municipal director in Vadsø, Marita Jakola Skansen, to NRK.


“This is a nature- and environmental catastrophe. Really terrible what happens,” she says.

It is black-legged kittiwake that now falls victim to the bird flu outbreak in Finnmark. Dead birds are recently found in Alta, Båtsfjord and Hammerfest.

Norwegian Veterinary Institute keeps track of reported dead birds and has since March found the virus from Svalbard in the north to Stavanger in the south.



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