BASC is advising members that the risk of avian influenza entering UK game premises and poultry farms remains at a “low, but heightened” level.
However, the official risk status for avian influenza affecting the UK’s wild birds has been raised to “medium” following an increase in reports of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 in mainland Europe.
BASC urges members that particular care should be taken with biosecurity and to report sightings of unusual behaviour in wild birds or if you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or 5 or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, you should report them . Defra’s telephone helpline number is 03459 33 55 77 and members in Northern Ireland should contact the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840.
Alex Farrell, a BASC game and gamekeeping officer, said: “There have been no reports to date of bird flu in the UK during this cycle of the disease.
“But we ask gamekeepers, others who run shoots and wildfowlers to stay vigilant. It is essential to maintain high levels of biosecurity and watch for signs of ill health in any overwintered birds.
“The shooting community is ideally placed to report bird flu infection in wild birds, should it occur here.“
BASC will continue to monitor the situation and issue further updates. For guidance contact the Game and Deer team on 01244 573 019.
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
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
Members in Northern Ireland can find out more information at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai