The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) which was introduced in November 2021 remains in force across in England, Wales and Scotland.
This means all bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, a commercial or a backyard flock) including those with gamebirds must continue to take effective and precautionary biosecurity measures as required under the AIPZ until further notice.
Separate AIPZ declarations have been made in each Great Britain administration.
Details of the measures that apply and further information on Avian influenza can be found on the below links:
The AIPZ in Northern Ireland was lifted on 1st June 2022 but it is essential that high standards of biosecurity continue to be exercised.
Further information of the latest government updates can be found here.
Shooting is not restricted as part of the conditions associated with this Prevention Zone.
Confirmed Cases and Disease Control Zones
Two recent confirmed cases in commercial poultry in early June, at two premises near Ludlow, Shropshire and a further case in non-commercial poultry at a premises near Bexhill-on-Sea, Rother, East Sussex highlights the need for everyone to remain vigilant in order to stop the spread of Avian influenza.
Following a confirmed case, disease control zones are put in place.
There are a number of conditions and rules which must be followed whilst these zones are in place.
While shooting is not directly impacted the release of gamebirds is prohibited with these disease control areas.
Check if you are in a disease control zone on Animal and Plant Health Agency’s interactive map here.
Further information and confirmed cases can also be obtained by clicking on the relevant country button below:
Further advice relating to gamebirds and avian influenza can be found here.
BASC is urging members to be vigilant and aware of the symptoms of the disease and to follow the latest biosecurity advice.
Avian Influenza in France
This year there have been a substantial number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in the Vendée and Loire Atlantique areas of France. It is in these areas where most French game farms are located.
There had been discussion and hope that once the relevant restrictions associated with disease control zones in France were lifted, that some later imports of chicks and eggs might have been possible, but this would be limited given the time of year.
However, following some uncertainty, the French authorities have now confirmed to French game farmers that the law requires a 90-day surveillance period before exports to a non-EU country can resume. As a result, importation of eggs from these areas, in sufficient timeframes for this season will not be possible.
The legal titles of the applicable legal instruments are the following Commission Regulation (EC) No 798/2008 of 8 August 2008 laying down a list of third countries, territories, zones or compartments from which poultry and poultry products may be imported into and transit through the Community and the veterinary certification requirements (this is retained EU law) and The Import of, and Trade in, Animals and Animal Products (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (This has amended the EU Regulations to transpose them domestically).
BASC will continue to work with others, including sister organisations and government, and where necessary seek changes to ensure supply chains free from unnecessary restrictions, there by securing them for the future.
However, given the current situation with disease control still in place in France, the time of year and seasonality of production, any changes regarding importations from France this year, will not be able to make up for the production already lost.
BASC understands that a number of game farmers in the UK, who had been hoping for stock from France have been contacting customers to advise them of this situation and we would continue to advise shoots to discuss the situation with their suppliers.
Monitoring and reporting findings
Avian influenza (bird flu) is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. In Northern Ireland If you suspect any strain of avian flu you must tell your local Divisional Veterinary Office immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77 – please select option 7). Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.
From 8 November 2021 no gatherings of poultry, galliforme birds or anseriforme birds are permitted. Galliforme birds include pheasants, partridge, quail, chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl.
Anseriforme birds include ducks, geese and swans. The bird gatherings general licence for these types of bird was revoked on 8 November 2021. Further guidance available here England; Scotland; and Wales.
In Northern Ireland the ban on poultry gatherings, shows and sales has now been lifted and these are now permitted under general licence.
The rules and restrictions on bird gatherings apply to the ‘catching up’ of wild game birds which once caught up would be classed as ‘kept’ in the same way as other poultry.
Catching-up of wild game birds where they come from multiple locations to a single location and are then moved onwards to different premises is currently not permitted because the General Licences which normally permit this have been withdrawn.
However, it is remains legal to catch up wild game birds during the relevant open season including where they have come from multiple locations but are then moved to a single location afterwards, and remain there for breeding or other purposes.
You can also catch up and bring birds together from different locations provided no birds leave until more than 13 days have passed since the last bird arrived on the premises.
This is general advice for those whose activities do not fall within a relevant disease control zone associated with an outbreak, within which specific legal requirements and restrictions apply. No birds (including game birds) may be moved into or out of these zones without a licence.
It should also be noted that were any caught up birds from the wild infected with avian influenza brought to a farm/shoot/estate could infect any birds that are already kept there and result in an confirmed case and disease control measures being implemented at that site.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, catching up of gamebirds after 1 February is illegal under the Game Act of 1831 and the Game Preservation Act (Northern Ireland) 1928. In these countries, catching up is only lawful during the season of the species in question. In Scotland, catching up of gamebirds is permitted until 28 February.
Further advice relating to gamebirds and avian influenza can be found here.
Avian Influenza licensing service
In Avian Influenza disease control zones, certain movements of birds, eggs, poultry products, materials associated with their keeping or mammals may need a licence. Check if you are in a zone on Defra’s interactive map.
Further information can be found here:
Advice on public health
Public Health England (PHE) advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency suggests that Avian Influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
For further guidance contact BASC’s Game & Gundogs Team on 01244 573 019 or email email@example.com