MORE than 100 seabirds have been found dead on St Kilda this season as concerns grow over the spread of avian influenza in Scotland.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said it is “very concerned” of the impact the outbreak could have on the archipelago after the death of 104 great skuas, also known as bonxies.

Bird flu has killed a “significant proportion” of the Great Skua population on the isolated site, the charity added.

Meanwhile, at an Aberdeenshire National Nature Reserve, St Cyrus, officials confirmed ten dead bird have washed ashore.

The majority of the deceased animals were gannets, with a further nine birds being found further south on Kinnaber beach.

Officials at St Cyrus called it a “massive blow to the seabird population and to these majestic seabirds”.

St Kilda is home to almost one million seabirds, including the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic puffins.

The archipelago is the UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of only 39 in the world.

The conservation charity NTS said it will continue monitoring the outbreak and following all the relevant protocols.

People who find dead birds are urged to avoid touching the animal and to contact officials.

In recent weeks, cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza have been confirmed in sea birds across Scotland.

Cases of bird flu were found in wild birds from Fife, Moray, Highlands, Stirling, Perth and Kinross, Shetland Islands, Aberdeenshire, Orkney and in the Western Isles.

Meanwhile, tests are also being carried out on northern gannets washing up onto East Lothian beaches from the world’s largest colony of the seabird on Bass Rock.

A number of dead gannets have been taken by experts from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Both Bass Rock and St Kilda are home to massive colonies of seabirds, with the the East Lothian site welcoming over 150,000 Northern gannets each year during their breeding season.

The chief executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, which is based in North Berwick nearby Bass Rock, warned that the disease could spread quickly through Scotland’s vast bird colonies.

Susan Davies said: “When you’ve got large numbers of colonial birds then the fear is that it will spread quite rapidly through the population.

“For us at the moment, we cannot predict what kind of fatality that would be.”

The Scottish Government and NatureScot are being urged to develop a response plan as the outbreak spreads.

Both the RSPB and the Scottish Seabird Centre warned that more coordination and communication was needed to tackle the threat to the country’s wild bird population.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Winter 2021/22 has seen the largest outbreak of avian flu in the UK to date. “While maintaining high levels of biosecurity among domestic flocks helps protect against disease, addressing the disease among wild birds poses significant challenges.

“The Scottish Government is taking the situation very seriously and is working hard with partner organisations to progress measures to respond to the reports of increased mortality among wild bird populations and help them become more resilient.”