14th November 2017

The Government and The National Gamekeepers Organisation alongside other organisations has issued revised guidance for keepers of game birds to help prevent Bird Flu and how it could impact on the industry should it reappear.

Government has joined with organisations involved in gamebird management to issue revised guidance on bird flu and the way it can affect the activities of gamebird rearers.

Published on 14 November 2017 by eight game shooting, research and game conservation bodies, the new guidance is endorsed by Defra, the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments. It will appear on all their websites and is available at https://www.gfa.org.uk/user_files/uploads/Bird_Flu_and_Gamebirds.pdf

Advice on this subject was first agreed nationally last winter during a severe outbreak of notifiable bird flu in the UK. The new advice differs in that it is general in nature and no longer date sensitive. Specific advice relating to any actual outbreaks will be published separately so that this standing advice can remain clear and widely available.

A spokesman for the eight stakeholder bodies said: "The UK is currently free of bird flu and whilst we hope that will remain the case, it is important to keep awareness and biosecurity high to reduce risks and to be ready should the disease reappear. Gamebirds can catch bird flu and the activities of gamebird rearers may also be affected by official controls introduced to eradicate the disease elsewhere.

"The advice explains the signs of the disease and what to do if it is detected. It also sets out the typical control measures, explaining how they might affect each aspect of gamebird management. It urges all gamebird keepers to make contingency plans now, lest their birds be infected with bird flu or their activities caught up in movement restrictions and other control measures."

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Nigel Gibbens, said: "We are pleased to endorse this important revised advice. Bird flu remains a serious concern and the control measures required can be fast-moving and comprehensive. It will help the gamebird industry to have approved, standing advice widely available so that keepers can plan ahead to minimise their risk of the disease."

Editors Notes
The eight gameshooting, research and game conservation bodies involved are: the British Association for Shooting & Conservation, the Countryside Alliance, the Country Land & Business Association, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Game Farmers’ Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association and Scotland’s Rural College.

 ENDS

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