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Migratory birds from Russia and India are believed to be the main carriers of bird flu.
Migratory birds from Russia and India are believed to be the main carriers of bird flu.

DOE: Stop Buying Game Meat

DOE: Stop Buying Game Meat

The hunting of birds along the coastal areas of Mazandaran Province has long been a hotly debated topic between environmental officials and hunters, but it has recently become more serious due to the spread of avian influenza.
Migratory birds flying from Russia and India, which are usually hunted for their meat, are considered the main carriers of bird flu, prompting calls from environmental authorities to stop their sale for meat.
Moslem Ahangari, the head of Mazandaran Department of Environment’s protection unit, cautioned people against buying game meat, ISNA reported.
The provincial office of DOE stopped issuing bird-hunting licenses and also suspended the permits of those who had already received permits to prevent a potential outbreak of avian influenza (or bird flu).
Ahangari emphasized that the move will help stave off the outbreak of the flu.
“The department would strictly monitor those who supply and buy illegal hunting equipment. Legal action would be taken against those who ignore the regulation,” he said.
In a debate over the issue on a television program named “Sarzamin-e Ma” on Friday, Behzad Yousefi, an environmental documentary filmmaker, argued that the authorities will not be able to prevent hunting but only control it.
He recommended taking preventive measures, such as “encouraging hunters who shoot for sport to take photos of animals instead of killing them, because the main reason they go hunting is because they want to be in nature”.  
However, Yousefi’s suggestion seems too optimistic, because although some believe humans have a natural desire to hunt, hunting is a source of revenue for most and not just a sport.
Poachers do not even use guns anymore, an environmental activist, Mohammad Ali Allahqoli, said during a phone call on the show, describing how illegal hunters in Fereydounkenar and Sorkhroud counties in Mazandaran Province kill birds.
“They install vast aerial and land traps, catching masses of migratory birds. This is an actual genocide, accelerating the birds’ extinction,” he said.
Curiously, those who purchase the meat are not rich individuals indulging their extravagant lifestyle. These are mostly purchased by superstitious locals.
 “People believe the meat has medical properties,” Allahqoli added.  
The Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization of Iran has allocated $2.5 million (100 billion rials) to fight avian influenza in seven provinces. Vaccines are widely available in pharmacies across the country.
Avian influenza is most often spread by contact between infected and healthy birds, though it can also spread indirectly through contaminated equipment. The virus is found in secretions from the nostrils, mouth and eyes of infected birds as well as their droppings. Highly pathogenic avian influenza infection is spread to people often through direct contact with infected poultry, such as during slaughter or plucking.

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