avian-fluBASC is reassuring members there is currently no threat to shooting following the introduction of the avian influenza prevention zone.

The zone, which has been declared across England, Scotland and Wales, will remain in place for 30 days to help protect poultry from the H5N8 strain of avian flu currently present in parts of mainland Europe. There are no restrictions in place for Northern Ireland.

Keepers of poultry and other captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors, or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds.

BASC has sought the advice of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). They confirmed there is no ban on shooting following the introduction of the restrictions.

Game birds which are already released are considered wild, so are under no restriction. But for those which remain in pens – such as those being overwintered for breeding – keepers should take practical steps to keep these birds separate from wild birds.

APHA have also confirmed there are no restrictions on falconers, although they are urging vigilance for signs of disease should wildfowl be caught by birds of prey.

Glynn Evans, BASC head of game & deer management, said: “Outbreaks of H5N8 have been confirmed in poultry and wild birds in several countries across Europe but not the UK. The threat to human health remains very low.

“We are approaching traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for shooting. But these avian flu precautions are not currently posing a threat to shooting.

“BASC is speaking with the relevant authorities to check the situation on a regular basis and will update members as and when we have new information.”

Ian Grindy, chairman of BASC’s game and gameshooting committee, said: “While shooting is not affected, we still urge all members to remain vigilant and know how to spot avian flu. We will keep members updated of any changes via our website.”

BASC’s game and deer management team is available to offer advice on 01244 573019.

Members can also sign up for automatic notifications of notifiable animal disease outbreaks in Great Britain by visiting: http://animalhealth.system-message.co.uk/AH_subscribe_index.php

Also, for advice on how to spot avian influenza (bird flu), what to do if you suspect it, and measures to prevent it: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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