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Stay away from migratory birds, Bataan folk urged

November 1, 2005
Manila Standard Today

Stay away from migratory birds, Bataan folk urged
By Butch Gunio

BALANGA CITY, Bataan – The government yesterday warned the public not to get too close to migratory birds flocking to the seaside village of Puerto Rivas, amid growing concerns that the deadly bird flu virus sweeping through Asia and Europe would reach the Philippines.

Brahminy Kite release on Mt. Samat with
WBCP President Mike Lu, Bataan
Congressman Albert Garcia and Dan Brimmer
Officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said tourists and local folk might be tempted to catch the wild birds that run the vast wetlands in Puerto Rivas white.

They said farmers should also stay away from the herons that go to their rice fields to feed while palay harvest is ongoing.

DENR provincial chief Ricardo Lazaro said thousands of cattle egrets, terns, herons and other birds from the Soviet Union, Australia and New Zealand have been migrating to Puerto Rivas since October as winter sets in in other countries.
Lazaro said the swampy Puerto Rivas has been visited by more water birds than any other areas in the country.

Tourism officials, on the other hand, are eyeing Puerto Rivas as a bird-watching preserve to attract local and foreign tourists.

Michael Lu, president of the Wild Birds Club of the Philippines, said more than 13,920 species of migratory birds were recorded in the area last year.

Lu was in Mt. Samat on Friday with DENR officials to witness the ceremonial release of two Philippine lawin or Brahminy kites.

In Leyte, meanwhile, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal said he would issue a pastoral letter asking for special prayers to save the city from bird flu.