27 February 2017

New Bird Flu Measures Confirmed

As the current prevention zone is due to expire on 28 February, the Government has confirmed a more targeted approach to reduce the risk of avian flu.

The new Prevention Zone is likely to be in place until at least the end of April and requires all poultry keepers across England to continue to observe strict biosecurity measures, with housing or netting required in higher risk areas. An interactive map will allow you to see if you are in a Higher Risk Area. 

The new measures will mean that most keepers will have the option to let birds outside whilst still taking reasonable precautions against avian flu. This includes a risk assessment to check that outside areas are not contaminated and the risk of contact with wild birds is low. Keepers should read the Defra guidance on what they must do under the new Prevention Zone.

There are different arrangements in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.  For further information on what the new Prevention Zone means for poultry keepers, contact the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

 The government has joined with several leading countryside organisations including the GWCT to issue important advice guidelines on gamebirds and avian flu, which all those  involved with gamebirds should read.

 The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency has made clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

 Whilst stringent biosecurity measures are put in place, it is crucial that those in the countryside remain vigilant and report any suspected cases. Guidance on how to spot avian flu and what to do if you suspect it is available from Defra here.

 The GWCT advises that:  

  • Shoots near the areas that have confirmed cases should practice extra vigilance
  • Keepers of captive gamebirds (e.g. overwintering breeding flocks) must minimise 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

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.

More information


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:
Joel Holt
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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