More Than 5,000 Cranes Die in Israel as Victims of Animal Agriculture
A Meat and Dairy Article from

FROM IDA In Defense of Animals
January 2022

Cranes and other wild birds been affected and some 560,000 egg-laying hens and 90,000 turkeys at farms near Hula Valley have been killed to prevent further spread of avian flu.


As we continue to face the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, birds are suffering from a similar scenario amid the spread of avian flu as outbreaks continue to be reported around the world. This virus has caused the deaths of thousands upon thousands of birds, including more than 5,000 migratory cranes who have just died in Israel, and points to the urgent need to end animal agriculture before it gets worse.

Avian influenza, otherwise known as avian flu or bird flu, is a viral disease that affects both wild and farmed birds. There are multiple strains that are considered either low pathogenic, which don’t usually lead to signs of illness, or highly pathogenic, which can cause severe illness and death.

This past year, multiple strains of avian flu have been found in a number of countries, but the highly pathogenic H5N1 has caused the most concern. By the end of December 2021, more than 5,000 cranes had died at the Hula Nature Reserve in northern Israel in what Environment Minister Tamar Zandberg called “the worst blow to wildlife in the country's history.”

Sadly, they’re not the only casualties. Wild birds elsewhere in the country have also been affected and some 560,000 egg-laying hens and 90,000 turkeys at farms near Hula Valley have been killed to prevent further spread.

While wild birds are often blamed for this problem, animal agriculture and factory farms (which hold 99% of farmed animals in the U.S. and 90% globally) are the real villains. Avian influenza has existed in wild birds without causing sickness, particularly in waterfowl and shorebirds, but has changed in a way that it can now infect other animals and humans. While it doesn’t readily pass between humans (yet), H5N1 has a fatality rate of 60% when it does.

Worryingly, intensively farming birds, including chickens, turkeys, and ducks, has created the perfect environment for the mutation and spread of infectious zoonotic diseases like avian influenza, which is spread through contaminated feces or respiratory droplets. Confining them to cramped, filthy conditions already compromises their immune systems and on top of that, they’re so selectively bred there’s little genetic diversity which increases the risk of diseases easily spreading and growing even more virulent.

debeaked Chicken

Add the international trade of animal products into the mix and it’s easy to see how this can quickly become a global problem practically overnight. Over the past year, a number of countries have had to face costly consequences, including Japan, Russia, South Korea, and several countries in Europe as mass killings continue to take place on farms. The UK is currently facing a record outbreak of avian influenza that has led to 500,000 birds being killed over just the past few months. France has killed as many as 650,000 chickens, ducks, and other birds in just a month, Bulgaria has killed 39,000 chickens, the Czech Republic has started killing 80,000 egg-laying hens at a single farm and is expected to destroy about 1 million eggs and Denmark has started killing 36,000 turkeys.

farmed Turkeys

The industry is worried about the economic losses and the inconvenience to humans caused by shortages of eggs and flesh while caring very little about the suffering and deaths of wild and farmed animals. We should all be deeply concerned about the tragedy unfolding for animals across the world, but also seriously worried about the possibility of yet another pandemic, as we watched how quickly SARS-CoV-2 mutated, which should be enough of a lesson.

The good news is that even though we’re largely causing this problem, we can also take steps to fix it by supporting plant-based food systems, which will protect animals, our health, the economy, and the environment.

Return to Meat and Dairy Industries