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Isle of May to reopen after five-week ban over bird flu fears

The Isle of May.
The Isle of May.

The Isle of May is to reopen to visitors following a five-week ban due to fears of a bird flu outbreak.

No members of the public have been allowed on the island off the coast of Fife since July 1.

The nature reserve, which is home to 80,000 puffins, was closed to prevent visitors potentially spreading avian flu to the island’s wildlife.

Boat trips have been able to take people to view the Isle of May from a distance but they have not been able to land.

Puffins on the Isle of May.

However, as the breeding season has ended and the majority of seabirds have left the island, NatureScot has announced it will be open to tourists again from Monday, with some health measures in place.

The ban was imposed after “unprecedented numbers” of wild birds were reported dead due to an outbreak of flu in recent months.

NatureScot says it is not yet possible to measure the impact of avian flu on the island’s breeding populations, but confirmed that some species have successfully bred.

Isle of May cliff edges.

A NatureScot statement said: “Visitors to the island will be asked to remain on paths, and biosecurity measures will be in place on boats and on the island.

“The virus has been found to stay on the ground and in bird faeces for a long time, so restricting access to any areas that still have nesting seabirds and taking simple steps to disinfect boots and clean clothing is crucial.”

Seabird colonies on 23 other islands around Scotland remain closed to public landings.

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