Bird flu a concern in fight to save Philippine Eagle: finance chief

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 22 2017 11:44 AM | Updated as of Aug 22 2017 11:54 AM

This handout photo taken on December 9, 2015 and released by the Philippine Eagle Foundation shows a 3-day old hatchling at the eagle center in Davao City. AFP

MANILA - Exposing the endangered Philippine Eagle to bird flu is a "big risk," Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said Tuesday, as the government moved to contain the outbreak in 3 Luzon towns.

Dominguez hails from Davao City, home to the a conservation center for the monkey-eating raptor. He is also former chairman of the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

"You know what really my concern is with the bird flu? It’s the Philippine Eagle. If the bird flu goes there, we may have to kill all the eagles," Dominguez said.

Hundreds of thousands of chickens, ducks and other birds have been slaughtered in the towns of San Luis, Pampanga and Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, where cases of avian flu were reported.

The affected towns were quarantined and authorities banned the shipment of birds and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said on Monday that there have been no confirmed cases of bird flu in Mindanao, where the Philippine Eagle sanctuary is located.

Conservationists estimate there are about 800 Philippine Eagles remaining in the wild, though it is impossible to count accurately due to their remote habitats. International conservation groups say there could be as few as 250 left.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the agriculture industry was "buoyant" and could weather the outbreak of the disease.