BASC is urging members and the wider shooting community to plan ahead and follow the advice endorsed by government after Defra confirmed a bird ‘flu outbreak at a third site in Lancashire.

Defra has reported that test results have confirmed the presence of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza at three game-rearing premises in Wyre. All three infected premises have business links.

Following this announcement, BASC has reiterated information contained within the ‘Bird Flu and Gamebirds’ document issued in collaboration with six other countryside organisations (CA, CLA, GFA, GWCT, NGO and SGA) and endorsed by Defra and the Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland governments.

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and deer management, said: “Everyone’s circumstances will be different, but we urge members to consider the advice document in its entirety.

“It is important for members not just to consider the impact of their own birds catching flu but also what would happen if there were outbreaks nearby or further afield.

“We are also again asking people to ensure all the required biosecurity measures are in place to help protect housed gamebirds, including separating captive birds from wild birds. The overall message has to be to plan ahead and remain vigilant.”

Defra has established 3km protection zones and a 10km surveillance zones around the premises infected by this latest outbreak in an attempt to limit the risk of the disease spreading.

BASC is asking members to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the zones, be aware of the symptoms of bird flu and to report suspicions to the relevant authorities.

The advice is that the risk to public health remains very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

Avian influenza prevention zones in place in England, Scotland and Wales since December 6 have now been extended until 28th February 2017. Northern Ireland’s prevention zone has now been extended until March 16, 2017. There is a GB-wide ban on poultry shows and gatherings.

Defra’s bird flu factsheet, including how to spot the symptoms, can be viewed here.

BASC is also highlighting that members of the public who find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or five or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location should report incidents to the Defra helpline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77) or in Northern Ireland to the DAERA helpline (Tel: 0300 200 7840).

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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