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The NGO is informing its members that Defra has released details of the most recent avian influenza findings in wild birds.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is informing its members that Defra released details on 2 March of the most recent findings of H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds in the UK. To read the update in full please click here

To date, H5N6 bird flu has not been detected in poultry [nor in captive gamebirds], either in the commercial or non-commercial sectors in the UK this winter. The UK remains, therefore, officially free of HPAI.

Bird flu is, however, circulating in wild birds, and there have been recent findings in a variety of wild bird species. These include: two mute swans on the River Thames in Surrey; two greylag geese and two (wild) pheasants on farmland in Lincolnshire; a common buzzard near a river bank in Devon; a northern goshawk on farmland in Suffolk; a common buzzard on farmland in Hampshire; and a common buzzard found near the coast in the Vale of Glamorgan.

With bird flu infection present in wild birds at a number of sites across England and Wales, the Defra risk assessment of the probability that further events will occur in wild birds in the UK remains at “high”.

The Defra risk assessment of the likelihood of the introduction of bird flu infection onto individual poultry premises [and sites with captive gamebirds] in the UK also remains unchanged. It continues to be put at “low” for those with strong biosecurity measures in place and at “medium” for premises with poor biosecurity.

Defra stresses the need for strong biosecurity measures to continue. Detailed advice on biosecurity, including how to spot avian influenza, what to do if you suspect it, and measures to prevent it, is available by clicking here.

Those with gamebirds should also read and act on the game-specific advice put together by seven countryside and shooting organisations (BASC, CA, CLA, GFA, GWCT, NGO and SGA) and endorsed by Defra, the Scottish and Welsh Governments and DAERA in Northern Ireland. It can be seen here

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said: “These Defra findings have been carefully assessed and the official risk levels for further bird flu incursions remain unchanged. The risk levels stay at “high” for wild birds; “medium” for kept flocks and “low” for those kept flocks with very good biosecurity measures in place.

"The NGO would stress that attention to detail on biosecurity must be a primary focus, a top priority, for all those with captive birds, including gamebirds. The better your biosecurity, the safer your birds will be from avian influenza.

“The NGO asks you to keep abreast of the relevant advice on bird flu, including information on biosecurity measures, which can be found on the Defra and the Welsh Government websites. Please also keep checking the NGO website and our social media for news.”

Note that since 18 January an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone has covered the whole of England, consequently all those with captive birds, including any gamekeepers with captive flocks, are legally required to follow strict biosecurity measures. For full details click here.

As a precautionary measure, the Welsh Government declared an all Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 25 January 2018. For full details click here.

Gamekeepers who find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds in unexpected circumstances should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Notes to Editors

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales, defending and promoting gamekeeping, gamekeepers and ensuring high standards throughout the profession. The NGO was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that their profession was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation. Today, there are around 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation. www.nationalgamekeepers.org.uk


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