The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is considering a plan to spend US$6.8 million to fit wild birds with tiny backpacks and monitor their annual migrations to understand better the spread of bird flu.
Under the plan thousands of wild birds would be captured before they migrate, and sample birds tested for the bird flu virus, then some will be fitted with tiny backpacks containing telemetry equipment, which weigh less than 51 grams, before being released.
Once released the birds’ every move will be tracked through communications satellites and a network of computers.
When the birds stop for a rest they will be recaptured and retested. If a positive result for bird flu is found the FAO would then have a good idea where the infection originated and where it might head next.
Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer of the FAO, was cited as saying with regard to the current bird flu situation: “All we have now is a snapshot. We need to see the whole film.”