AI-fighting swans fitted with GPS backpacks
Ten swans will be outfitted with GPS backpacks so
their movements can be tracked, providing information on wild bird migration
patterns that could help in the fight against AI.
Ten whooper swans were captured in far
eastern Mongolia, near the borders of Russia and China, by an international team
of scientists in early August as part of a study to shed light on how wild birds
may be involved in spreading bird flu. The whooper swans were chosen for the
experiment because large numbers of the species have died in Mongolia and
western China in the past two years. Tests verified that some of them were
infected with highly pathogenic avian
The plan is to outfit the each of
the 8-kg swans with super-light Teflon
backpacks (70 g) containing solar-powered GPS satellite transmitters. This is
the latest way scientists and researchers are trying to fight the spread of
avian influenza. The harnesses are made of Teflon ribbon that deteriorates and
falls off within a few years.
An international team of
scientists, including scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the US Geological Survey, will track the birds' migration routes to glean information to aid
in the fight against bird flu.
"Although we are sampling
wild birds for avian influenza in the field, we will not be able to fully
understand their role in this disease unless we better understand their
movements," Wildlife Conservation Society spokesman William Karesh
Photo: N. Batbayar, Mongolia WSCC
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