'Terrible' oil spill in Hitchin river causes multiple bird deaths
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.
"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.
"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."