French authorities on Thursday began an operation that could see up to 1 million ducks culled from the country’s main foie gras-producing region in an attempt to contain an outbreak of a dangerous bird flu strain.
Duck farmers in southwestern France will kill the birds to stem the tide of an outbreak of the H5N8 virus that has been detected in at least 13 other European countries since October.
French authorities and duck farmers have engaged in several culls in the past month, but until now those culls have only taken place on farms with infected birds.
The cull will affect free-range ducks that may have come in contact with wild birds carrying the virus.
While the virus is extremely harmful to birds, it doesn’t transmit through food and has not been found doesn’t affect humans.
French authorities expect the cull to end by January 20 and say as many as 1 million ducks could be slaughtered. The fast spread of the bird flu made the cull necessary, they said.
In the past year, 89 bird flu outbreaks have been reported in France.
Farmers will receive compensation from the French government for the birds that are destroyed.