Avian Influenza in the UK

BASC is advising members that an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been implemented across the UK.

In addition to the requirements of the AIPZ, housing measures came into force on 29 November 2021. 

The Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have brought in housing measures across the whole of the UK to protect poultry and captive birds from avian influenza following a number of confirmed cases across Great Britain in recent weeks.

The housing measures mean that it will be a legal requirement for all bird keepers across the UK to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

Click here for more information.

Shooting is not restricted as part of the conditions associated with this Prevention Zone.

Neither is shooting directly impacted by the implementation of 3km and 10km control zones at sites where Avian Influenza is currently identified.

However, BASC is urging members to be vigilant and aware of the symptoms of the disease and to follow the latest biosecurity advice and any measures required in the zones.

Further information and confirmed cases can also be obtained by clicking on the relevant country button below:

Current Situation

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared across Great Britain effective from 5pm on 3 November 2021. The AIPZ means all bird keepers in Great Britain (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) are required by law to take a range of biosecurity precautions.

Separate AIPZ declarations have been made in each Great Britain administration. Details of the measures that apply and further information on Avian influenza can be found on the below links:

Further information of the latest government updates can be found here.
Check if you are in a disease control zone on Animal and Plant Health Agency’s interactive map here.
Advice relevant to gamebirds and shooting can be found here.

Shooting

Shooting, whether of gamebirds or other quarry species, including the movement of shot wild gamebirds, is currently unaffected by the controls in place for avian influenza. However, BASC is urging members to be vigilant and aware of the symptoms of the disease and to follow the latest biosecurity advice and any measures required in any of the zones.

Sign up for the latest Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) updates

You can also sign up to be notified automatically with the latest news specific to the exotic notifiable animal disease outbreaks in Great Britain including Avian Influenza. When registering, you can choose how you receive alerts. These can be either as a pre-recorded voice message for mobile or landlines, text message or email. 

Monitoring and reporting findings

Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. In Northern Ireland If you suspect any strain of avian flu you must tell your local Divisional Veterinary Office immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 – please select option 7). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Following reports of findings of large numbers of dead Svalbard Barnacle Geese (a protected species)  BASC is reminding those wildfowling on the Solway Firth to avoid contact with this species, follow good personal biosecurity and  cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear and vehicles. It is estimated that 4,000 Svalbard Barnacle Geese have died from avian influenza in recent weeks.

Bird gatherings

From 8 November 2021 no gatherings of poultry, galliforme birds or anseriforme birds are permitted. Galliforme birds include pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl.

Anseriforme birds include ducks, geese and swans. The bird gatherings general licence for these types of bird was revoked on 8 November 2021. Further guidance available here EnglandScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

The rules and restrictions on bird gatherings apply to the ‘catching up’ of wild game birds which once caught up would be classed as ‘kept’ in the same way as other poultry.

Catching-up of wild game birds where they come from multiple locations to a single location and are then moved onwards to different premises is currently not permitted because the General Licences which normally permit this have been withdrawn.

However, it is remains legal to catch up wild game birds during the relevant open season including where they have come from multiple locations but are then moved to a single location afterwards, and remain there for breeding or other purposes.

You can also catch up and bring birds together from different locations provided no birds leave until more than 13 days have passed since the last bird arrived on the premises.

This is general advice for those whose activities do not fall within a relevant disease control zone associated with an outbreak, within which specific legal requirements and restrictions apply. No birds (including game birds) may be moved into or out of these zones without a licence.

It should also be noted that were any caught up birds from the wild infected with avian influenza brought to a farm/shoot/estate could infect any birds that are already kept there and result in an confirmed case and disease control measures being implemented at that site.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, catching up of gamebirds after 1 February is illegal under the Game Act of 1831 and the Game Preservation Act (Northern Ireland) 1928. In these countries, catching up is only lawful during the season of the species in question. In Scotland, catching up of gamebirds is permitted until 28 February.

Further advice relating to gamebirds and avian influenza can be found here.

Poultry Register

This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants. Read more here.

Advice on public health

Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency suggests that Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

Please see the FAQs below for more information

Are there any restrictions on shooting in protection and surveillance zones?

Shooting, whether of gamebirds or other quarry species, is currently unaffected by the controls in place for Avian Influenza.

It is also important for the wider shooting community to remain vigilant of Avian Influenza and understand how to spot symptoms of the disease.

You can help with the detection of Avian Influenza in our wild bird populations by continuing to monitor and report any sighting of abnormal behaviour or findings of dead birds. If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).

More information can be found here.

Is it okay to move shot game birds in or out of protection and surveillance zones?

There are currently no restrictions on the movement of shot wild game bird in or out of protection and surveillance zones, and no special conditions for the marking, movement, or sale of the carcases.