DEFRA has (18 January 2018) introduced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone to cover the whole of England.
All those with captive birds, including any game managers with captive wintering flocks, are now legally required to follow strict biosecurity measures.
Defra advises those with released game to continue to feed and water these gamebirds, but to make reasonable efforts to minimise the chance of other wild birds accessing their feed and water, for example by placing it under cover.
There are currently no findings of bird flu in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and the Prevention Zone is for England only.
Advice on biosecurity measures, including how to spot avian influenza, what to do if you suspect it, and measures to prevent it, is available here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bird-flu-prevention-zone-extended-to-cover-whole-of-england
Those with gamebirds should also be fully aware of the game-specific advice put together by seven countryside and shooting organisations (BASC, CA, CLA, GFA, GWCT, NGO and SGA) and endorsed by Defra, the Scottish and Welsh Governments and DAERA in Northern Ireland. It can be read here https://www.gfa.org.uk/user_files/uploads/Bird_Flu_and_Gamebirds.pdf
Please note that shooting is not restricted, but the GWCT advises shooting interests in the vicinity of specific bird flu outbreaks to act appropriately and consider fully the implications of their actions at this time.
Defra’s decision to instigate an England-wide Prevention Zone followed from the confirmation of bird flu in 13 wild birds in Warwickshire, which followed the first confirmed finding of bird flu in the UK this winter in wild birds on 12 January in south Dorset. At least 31 infected birds have now been identified at this site.
Bird flu has been circulating on the continent, and it is believed the virus has been brought to our shores by migratory birds.
Anyone who finds dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds in unexpected circumstances should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
Keep an eye on our website for further announcements.
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.
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