Bird flu sparks Israeli ban on hunting

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Israel has banned hunting until the end of the month in response to a severe outbreak of avian flu with the aim of restricting contact between people and birds.

Environment Minister Tamar Sandberg referred to a "serious and exceptional outbreak" in remarks published by her ministry on Monday.

Sandberg expressed concern that the disease could be transmitted to people.

Bird flu has broken out at several battery farms in the country over recent months.

Hundreds of thousands of birds have been destroyed in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading.

Wildfowl have also been infected, with thousands of migratory cranes dying from the disease during their passage from southern Europe to Africa.

"We are working on the assumption that this is a particularly aggressive variant of avian flu that is leading to mass mortality in the bird population," the Environment Ministry statement said.

Europe is experiencing "the worst bird flu epidemic ever" among both wild and domesticated populations, the German authorities reported at the end of last month.

According to the Israeli authorities, the disease affects wild duck and pigeons, which can usually be hunted legally.

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