A FORM of bird flu may be the cause of the death of seagulls found across the city.

About ten have been found dead at Brighton Marina within a couple of days.  

Brighton Marina estate director Andrew Knight said there have also been reports of dead gulls near Roedean and in East Brighton Park.

“We have found about ten dead seagulls on the marina over the last two days, across various areas of the estate,” he said.

“We have also heard reports of several dead gulls being found at Roedean and in East Brighton Park.

“We have never known this to occur in the past, so it is very concerning.

“We have informed the RSPB and the RSPCA, who have advised us to inform Defra, due to the current outbreak of avian flu, which they considered may be the cause.

“Defra have told us that they will contact us if they wish to carry out an investigation.

“We have also notified the police.”

While unable to comment on specific cases, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was aware of a number of wild bird deaths reported at several locations in England.

“The deaths are under investigation as part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s (APHA) ongoing wild bird surveillance programme,” a spokesman said.

“Dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, should be reported to the Defra helpline.

“Members of the public should not pick up any dead or visibly sick birds. APHA will then arrange collection of some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird. Not all birds will be collected.”

An RSPCA spokesman said: “We were very sorry to hear about the dead gulls in Brighton. We take all animal welfare concerns very seriously.

“Avian flu remains a problem in the UK, and we have been liaising with the government’s APHA which is leading on this issue.

“While avian flu is still around, members of the public who find a dead wild bird, such as a gull, should check the government’s online advice and report the finding to the Defra helpline.

“They should also avoid handling any birds other than common garden birds.”

Brighton and Hove City Council and RSPB were approached for comment.

Concerned resident Justin King is not convinced avian flu is responsible for the deaths and thinks they should be treated as a “wildlife crime, perpetuated by a single individual or individuals”.

“More casualties are being reported in the Collingwood Court area,” he said. “Many are sick and stranded upon rooftops, as well as found on the ground.

“Reports are being submitted to Sussex Police, the RSPCA, and as a matter of precaution, to Defra.

“These incidents are killing off an entire species and putting an unbearable strain on teams of volunteers already severely stretched by this current rescue season.”