An outbreak of avian flu has killed more than 5 000 migratory cranes in Israel, prompting authorities to declare a popular nature reserve off-limits to visitors and warn of a possible egg shortage as local poultry are culled as a precaution.
"This is the worst blow to wildlife in the country's history," Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg tweeted as rangers in hazardous material suits collected carcasses of cranes from the lake of northern Hula Nature Reserve and outlying marshes.
Hundreds of thousands of chickens had been culled, she said.
Israeli media said children who had visited the reserve may have touched a stricken crane and thus contributed to the spread of the flu. Authorities were looking to import eggs from abroad and head off an egg shortage due to the cull, the reports said.
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