Endangered black-faced spoonbill put to sleep after geting bird flu

Taipei, March 6 (CNA) A black-faced spoonbill was put to sleep Friday after it was found to have been infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza, an official of the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Friday, but the move was criticized by an animal rights group.
Chang Shu-hsien(???), head of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said that the Wild Bird Society of Tainan sent four wild birds for treatment on March 1 and one of them was found to have been infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza (type H). She said the bureau convened a meeting on the matter, and decided it had to put the endangered bird to sleep because it lacked a suitable place to isolate. Chang said that animal hospitals have no negative pressure wards, and the negative pressure labs of COA's Animal Health Research Institute (???????) are currently being used to conduct foot-and mouth animal experiments, while the COA's Endemic Species Research Institute (????) is accommodating other birds.
Chang said putting the black-faced spoonbill in these places could lead to other animals being infected with the virus. Chang said that the bureau was forced to make the difficult decision, and that it had no time to build a negative pressure ward at this point. So veterinarian Chen Pei-chung (???) performed the euthanasia on the bird because there is no suitable ward for it and due to fear of the further spread of the virus, Chang said.
But Wild Bird Society of Tainan Secretary General Kuo Tung-hui(???), who along with other members had sent 14 sick black-faced spoonbills, including the one put to sleep, to the bureau since March 1 for treatment of botulinum toxin, criticized the bureau's decision. "Kuo cried when he saw the bird he wanted to save had to die and I myself felt sad too," Chen said. Kuo said that there are only about 3,000 black-faced spoonbills left in the world, and 1,800 of them would migrate to Taiwan for the winter. If they need to be treated in the negative pressure ward, he wondered if they could be sent to isolation wards for people, or other places, that would keep it in isolation. Cheng Chien-chung(???), an associate professor of Kaohsiung Medical University, meanwhile said negative pressure ward treatment is not necessary, adding that the sick bird could have been simply put in a place that isolated it from other animals. Cheng stressed that there could be another case of black-faced spoonbill being infected with avian flu virus, and the COA should set up a standard operation procedure in treating the sick birds, and not put any more of these endangered species to sleep. But COA Minister Chen Bao-ji (???)and Chang defended their decision, saying that smuggled endangered species animals are also put to sleep to contain the possible spread of viruses. The bureau has confirmed that it is the first time it has put the bird to sleep. (By Yang Shu-min and Lilian Wu)