'Terrible' oil spill in Hitchin river causes multiple bird deaths

One of the geese found covered in oil in Hitchin

One of the geese found covered in oil in Hitchin - Credit: Polly Ellis

Geese, ducks and other wildlife have been killed after oil was found in the River Hiz.

The oil's effect on wildlife in Hitchin was spotted yesterday (Tuesday, September 21) when multiple river-dwelling birds were found covered in "a greasy substance".

The oily substance could also be seen mixed in with the river water.

A variety of local animals were affected by the River Hiz oil spill

A variety of local animals were affected by the River Hiz oil spill - Credit: Polly Ellis

An eyewitness also reported "many geese, mallards and baby birds dead" in the incident.

Teams from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Environment Agency were called to the scene. 

The "greasy substance" could be seen mixed with the rivers water

The "greasy substance" could be seen mixed with the rivers water - Credit: Polly Ellis

Pictures show RSPCA and Environment Agency employees using nets and installing a barrier around the river.

An RSPCA spokesperson told The Comet: "The RSPCA has been working closely with other organisations, including the Environment Agency and the local council, to rescue birds affected by this terrible oil spill - with a grey lag goose and Mallard duck already among the animals taken to a wildlife hospital.

Multiple oil-covered geese with an RSPCA van behind them.

Teams from the RSPCA and Environment Agency were seen at the scene. - Credit: Polly Ellis

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"We sent a dedicated rescue team - including experts in water rescues - to the site; and share in the distress this spill will be causing many animal lovers across Hertfordshire and beyond.

"We will continue to monitor the location, as there are still moorhens that initially evaded capture we hope to rescue. 

A goose covered in a black substance.

An eye witness also reported "many geese, mallards and baby birds dead" due to the incident. - Credit: Polly Ellis

"Sadly, some Canada Geese found at the site had already died and others - which were heavily oiled and water logged - were put to sleep on the advice of veterinary experts.

"As bird flu is still a widespread problem throughout the UK and is very infectious, the advice from the UK Health Security Agency and APHA is that the public should not touch or pick up any visibly sick or dead wild birds that they find, including those impacted by the recent oil spill.

The substance is thought to have been "poured into" the river

The substance is thought to have been "poured into" the river - Credit: Polly Ellis

"To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit our website (https://www.rspca.org.uk/) or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181."

An RSPCA team and cordon around the River Hiz, Hitchin

An RSPCA team and cordon around the River Hiz, Hitchin - Credit: Polly Ellis