BASC is urging its members to remain vigilant to the signs of Avian Influenza following confirmation that the H5N8 strain of the disease was present in a wild duck found dead in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Welsh Chief Veterinary Officer Christianne Glossop has confirmed the finding in a single wigeon. It is the same strain of the disease confirmed at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire last week (although there is no suggestion the disease has spread from that farm) and present across many parts of mainland Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
No restrictions on shooting have currently been imposed following the discovery of bird flu in the UK. The advice remains that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and it has been made clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
A series of enhanced measures have been introduced to limit the threat of bird flu spreading to poultry. These include the declarations of prevention zones covering England, Wales and Scotland on 6 December, requiring all kept birds to be housed or otherwise separate from wild birds. A temporary suspension on gatherings of some species of birds has also been introduced.
Following the discovery of the disease near Louth, in Lincolnshire, Defra imposed a 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone around the infected farm.
Shot wild game bird carcasses can be moved within and out of the protection zone and surveillance zone.
Glynn Evans, BASC head of game and deer management, said: “It is important that the wider shooting community remains vigilant to bird flu and makes itself aware of how to spot the symptoms of the disease.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affiars (Defra) factsheet on avian influenza, including how to spot the symptoms, can be viewed here.
BASC is highlighting Defra’s request 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 them to the Defra helpline (Tel: 03459 33 55 77).
BASC will continue to update its website as further information becomes available.