High number of seal deaths at Maine beaches linked to bird flu, feds say

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) — An unusual number of seals are becoming stranded and dying off Maine beaches this summer, and avian influenza is to blame, the federal government said Tuesday.

The US Department of Agriculture has confirmed that samples from four Maine seals tested positive for the virus. The animals all died or required euthanasia, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Marine mammal rescuers started to notice an unusually high number of seal strandings in June, and then the USDA conducted the tests, NOAA said in a statement. The rate of dead seal strandings in Maine is about three times the normal rate for the summer and is close to 60, the agency said.

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