More on Bird Flu

Thursday 16th Feb 2017

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is informing its members that there has been a series of developments this week on H5N8 bird flu in England and Wales.

In Wales, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs announced a new Avian Influenza Prevention Zone to run from 28 February to 30 April.

The new zone in Wales will require all those with captive birds (including gamebirds) to complete a self-assessment of biosecurity measures on their premises. The objective is to keep flocks totally separate from wild birds by continuing to keep birds housed or using other measures, which may include permitting controlled access to outside areas, subject to the introduction of additional risk mitigation measures. For full details click here

Please note: the Prevention Zones (PZs) in operation across all of Great Britain (including Wales) remain in place. These help reduce the risk of captive birds (including gamebirds) coming into contact with wild birds or with their droppings. The zones also reduce the potential for any food or water to be contaminated by wild birds. Captive birds can still be infected, which is why good biosecurity is essential. For full details of the current GB-wide PZs, click here

In England, the H5N8 strain of the bird flu was confirmed at a poultry farm near Redgrave in Suffolk. A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Full details of the controls that are in place can be read here and here (this link contains a detailed map of the two zones surrounding Redgrave).

The poultry farm is estimated to hold around 23,000 birds. A number have died and the remaining live birds at the premises will be culled. A full investigation is under way to determine the source of the infection.

A Defra interactive map is also available to check if the restrictions around any premises affect you.

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Shooting is not restricted where 3km Protection and 10km Surveillance Zones are in force. The NGO would urge however shooting interests in the vicinity of bird flu outbreaks to consider their planning at this time.

A spokesman for the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation said: “We continue to stress to NGO members and others with captive birds the importance of following the enhanced biosecurity requirements in force in Prevention Zones across Great Britain, which include the need to take appropriate steps to keep captive birds separate from wild birds. Please keep checking for updates on the NGO website and on our social media.”

Other important information

The NGO reminds its members and others in the shooting community that government came together with countryside and shooting organisations on 13 January and issued important information about bird flu to all those specifically involved with gamebirds. For the background to the announcement and for the link leading to the advice, please click here

The NGO continues to ask its members to be vigilant and to report any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls or five or more dead wild birds of other species, when encountered in the same location in unusual circumstances, to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77. Details of how to spot the symptoms of bird flu can be found here

Official guidance and advice on all relevant aspects of avian influenza – from implementing biosecurity measures to spotting symptoms and how to go about reporting suspected cases – are available in a directory on the Defra website. It can be viewed by clicking here

Remember the general licence for bird gatherings has been amended, such that gatherings with poultry or captive birds of the Anseriforme [ducks, geese and swans] and Galliforme [game and poultry] orders are prohibited.

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