BASC is highlighting new measures to protect against avian flu in England, Wales and Scotland.
Defra will update bird flu controls in England tomorrow (February 28th) and take a more targeted approach to tackling the threat from bird flu, with mandatory biosecurity measures and continued housing or range netting in higher risk areas. The measures will be in place until 30th April. To find out if you are in a higher risk area, visit Defra’s interactive map here.
After 28th February in England, Defra says the housing of birds will no longer be required by law for most of those with captive birds, and birds will be able to go outside provided specific precautions are taken against avian flu.
Anyone planning to allow birds outdoors from 28 February is required by Defra to take action now to reduce the risk of infection. Defra’s detailed advice can be found here.
Those with more than 500 birds will be required by law to take some extra biosecurity measures. These include identifying defined areas where access by non-essential people and vehicles is restricted and cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment and footwear. Click here for details.
In Northumberland, H5N8 avian flu was confirmed on 24th February in a small flock of chickens at a farm near Haltwhistle, Northumberland. The flock contained around 35 birds. 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.
Shooting is not restricted where 3km Protection and 10km Surveillance Zones are in force. However BASC would urge anyone with shooting interests in the vicinity of bird flu outbreaks to consider their plans.
New Avian Influenza Prevention Zones will also come into force tomorrow (28th February) in Scotland and Wales and will also run until 30th April 2017. Neither incorporate the higher risk areas approach used in England. In Wales there is a requirement for keepers of poultry and other captive birds to complete an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Self-Assessment Form.
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.
Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and deer management, said: “With the new bird flu measures due to come into force in England, Wales and Scotland tomorrow it is vital that all those with captive birds, including gamebirds, remain vigilant and fully adhere to the relevant measures. These will vary depending upon which country you are in so it is essential you are aware of your particular responsibilities.”
BASC continues to ask 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.
BASC reminds members and others in the shooting community that government came together with countryside and shooting organisations on 13th 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.
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.