A DOZEN dead birds suspected of having avian flu have been found on the M65 motorway near Burnley.

It comes as an investigation has been launched after scores of dead birds were found on a nature reserve last week.

Neighbours raised the alarm after finding dead geese and seeing ducks wandering from mill pond lodges and dying in local gardens.

People living near the reserve at Lowerhouse Lodges in Burnley estimate that as many as 80 birds have died in recent weeks.

Vets called out to help with are reported to have diagnosed avian botulism, a claim being investigated by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Burnley councillor Charlie Briggs said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon. He said: “The lodges are very important to local people and it is where I go running.

“I urge people to be very vigilant and cautious until this is resolved.”

A spokesman for Defra said they were working with the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) to test all birds reported.

A spokesman for the AHVLA said: “The disease is not unusual although it may be associated with deaths in wild birds. Anyone finding five or more dead wild birds should call the Defra Helpline on 08459 335577.