Biosecurity: shooting and the countryside

What is biosecurity?

Biosecurity refers to all the measures taken to minimise the risk of infectious diseases caused by viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms entering, emerging, establishing or spreading as a result of our actions.

The benefit of good biosecurity helps to ensure the overall health of the wider environment, protects individual species, and can help maintain the health of your game birds.

For example, when it comes to game bird rearing and releasing the Animal Plant and Health Association (APHA) have identified that the most important factor in reducing the impact of avian influenza is good biosecurity which is practised and applied properly. These same practices also help to stop the spread of other diseases including mycoplasma, coccidiosis and hexamita.

The measures put in place to mitigate potential risks also help to limit the spread of alien Invasive species that can cause serious environmental problems.

You can do your bit to help to protect the environment, your season ahead and the future of you shooting sports by undertaking some relatively small steps, such as checking, cleaning, and drying your kit regularly.

Disease and invasive alien species (IAS) can be spread in a number of ways including, but not limited to:

  • Contamination of vehicles, equipment, clothing, and footwear, which moves invasive alien species or disease between areas.
  • Using equipment, which has not been effectively cleansed and disinfected.
  • Through wild birds’ transporting or leaving behind contaminated faecal matter.
  • Vermin or wild birds accessing poorly maintained houses, feed, or bedding.
  • Birds (released or wild) drinking from contaminated water sources or eating contaminated feed.
  • In the marine environment, this could also apply to boat, or in ballast water.

Basic biosecurity we can take into the field

As shooters and countryside users we can all play our part in maintaining good biosecurity therefore reducing the potential risk of transmission of both diseases and IAS:

  • Regularly check, clean, and dry your footwear, clothing, and all associated equipment.
  • Use pressure washers, brushes, hoses, water, and fresh supplies of an appropriate disinfectant when cleaning, ideally to be undertaken in areas where there is drainage into a water network.
  • Ensure vehicles are cleaned frequently, wash all areas paying particular attention to, wheels, under wheel arches, flat-beds, and vehicle footwells.
  • Maintain good hand hygiene and consider the use of nitrile gloves where appropriate.
  • Consider using different footwear or clothing when you move between locations if foot dips or kit washing facilities are not available.
  • If using disinfectant, ensure its appropriate for its intended use, of the right concentration, and that it is changed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. The level of boot dip should always be at least ankle deep and care should be taken to position the boot dip to allow for simple and safe use.
  • When moving between sites vulnerable to disease or IAS, visit the most vulnerable sites first to reduce risk of disease transfer or contamination from other sites.
  • Use game bags, roe sacks and carcass trays for the rear of vehicles when transporting game, wildfowl, and deer. Regularly clean these devices and adhere to good game handling practices.
  • Even your dog can transport organic matter such as fungi, bacteria and insects.
  • Report any invasive non-native sightings to the relevant authority e.g. any trees that you suspect are in ill-health to the Forestry Commission, Scottish Forestry and Natural Resources Wales.

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