A BERKSHIRE charity has expressed it's 'devastated' after 26 swans were put down this week.

It comes after cases of bird flu were detected near Windsor.

Swan Lifeline, which cares for sick and injured swans, has become a victim of the recent outbreak of Avian Flu (HPAI) H5N1.

After the virus was confirmed by Defra on January 2, its team and a vet were sent to put down the swans the charity were currently caring for.

This was to prevent the swans from the effects of the virus and also protected other river wild fowl from potentially catching it.

Defra has implemented a 1.86 mile disease control zone around Eton to help minimise the spread.

Swan Lifeline's chair, Dominic Smulders: "This has been a devastating and heart-breaking time for all of us at Swan Lifeline but I want to commend our on-site team for their absolute professionalism during these traumatic few days.

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"DEFRA's opinion was that we did everything we possibly could to prevent an outbreak but because we're situated on an island, wild birds have access and fly over the pens, bringing with them the virus."

Mr Smulders went on to thank the Defra vet and team for their skills and empathy towards the swans and staff.

He added: "Nature is beautiful - but it can also be cruel."

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has now put out a warning to dog owners on its Facebook page this morning (January 7).

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The council said: “With bird flu cases now found locally, Defra’s disease control zone is in place to minimise the spread and protect our swans, other waterfowl and commercial poultry flocks.

“On national advice, dog owners will be required from Monday to keep dogs on leads along the riverbanks at Windsor and Eton, including adjacent grassy areas such as The Brocas.”

RBWM added doing this reduces the risks of dogs getting involved with potentially infected bird mess on the riverbanks.