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Azerbaijan Checks Natural, Hunting Reserves Over Bird Flu

Areas affected by bird flu (RFE/RL) 13 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijani authorities say they are checking several of the country's natural and hunting reserves over bird flu concerns.

The Azad Azerbaycan television station today quoted Emin Sahbazov], the deputy head of the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary department, as saying on-site inspections were being conducted on Pirallahi island, on the Abseron Peninsula, and in Baku's Qaradag district.

Sahbazov said the likelihood of birds migrating to Azerbaijan is minimal due to cold weather. However, he did not rule out the presence of contaminated birds in the country.

RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports massive bird deaths have taken place in the past few days in southern Salyan region. But authorities say bird flu is not responsible.

In related news, the Agriculture Ministry today said that the sale of birds and poultry meat outside shops has been banned throughout the country.

(RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, Azad Azerbaycan, Turan)