PART of Brownsea Island has been closed to the public after an outbreak of avian flu killed hundreds of birds.
The area, managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust, has been shut in a bid to investigate the outbreak and to prevent further spread.
The trust confirmed around 600 birds had died and that tests by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had confirmed avian flu.
“It is with great sadness that we have now received the results of the tests from Defra which have confirmed that it is indeed avian flu,” a trust spokesperson said.
“Unfortunately, the outbreak occurred at the height of the breeding season when hundreds of Sandwich terns, common terns and black headed gulls come to Poole Harbour and nest on the islands in the Brownsea lagoon.
“For this reason, the majority of the 600 dead birds found were chicks which will potentially have a serious impact on future bird populations.”
The area, including the lagoon and surrounding reedbeds and woodlands, will be closed ‘for the foreseeable future’, they added.
“The closure is to enable the Brownsea team to monitor and manage this very difficult and distressing situation and to reduce any risk of spreading the disease,” they said.
“The rest of Brownsea Island is still open to the public and all visitor events are taking place with ferries running from Poole Quay as normal.
“A limited pre-bookable boat service is also available from Sandbanks jetty. We are very sorry for any disappointment and inconvenience that the closure has caused and will provide further updates as soon as we can.
“Thank you for your understanding.”