07 December 2016

Prevention Zone Declared To Protect Poultry From Avian Flu – The Implications for Game Birds

Every autumn we expect more cases of avian flu in Europe and this year wild birds and some poultry units have tested positive in a number of countries in mainland Europe.  As a precautionary measure the Chief Veterinary Officer has declared a Prevention Zone to protect poultry.  The zone covers England and Scotland and will remain in place for 30 days.  Keepers of poultry and captive birds are now required to keep their birds indoors or take appropriate steps to keep them separate from wild birds. 

Bird FluEach time an outbreak is identified, stringent bio-security measures are put in place; but these may be problematic if it is found in wild birds, so it is crucial that those in the countryside remain vigilant and report any suspected cases.  There are currently no restrictions on shooting activities and shoots can continue as normal, however the GWCT advises that:  

  • Keepers of captive gamebirds (e.g. overwintering breeding flocks) must minimize the risk of contact with wild birds where indoor housing is not practicable
  • Be vigilant and look out for signs of sickness/disease/dead birds (captive, free living and wild birds) and report any concerns to the Defra Helpline – 03459 33 55 77
  • Ensure that captive flocks of 50 or more birds (chickens, ducks, partridges, pheasants etc) are registered with Defra
  • Ensure high levels of biosecurity

 Public Health England advises that the threat to human health remains very low.

Avian influenza – what is it and how is it spread?

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. The disease spreads from bird to bird by direct contact or through contaminated body fluids and faeces. Avian influenza isn’t an airborne disease nor is there evidence that any recent strain of avian influenza has been able to spread directly between people.

 For more information please visit:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/animal-welfare/Diseases/disease/avian



Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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