POLICE are looking into the potential cause of birds dying close to a canal in Runcorn – with foul play not ruled out.

Officers were called to reports of the birds at an as-of-yet unnamed canal in the town yesterday, Wednesday.

Cheshire Police says a suspicious male was seen in the area beforehand, while anti-social behaviour could also be a factor.

Police are also not ruling out the possibility of bird flu, with the relevant authorities informed.

In an update, the force’s Rural Crime Team said: “I have been to the Runcorn area after concerns of dead birds found near to a canal.

“A suspicious male was seen in the area and also possible anti-social behaviour there too, so at this moment we are uncertain as to the possible cause of death.

“DEFRA has been informed due to possible bird flu as a cause of death, and although bird to human transmission is very low, correct PPE is needed to remove any dead wild birds.

We are working closely with PCSO Taylor, the PCSO for that particular ward, and if any other information comes to light, we will act together upon it.”