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Avian flu latest: advice for East Anglian shoots

Laboratory test results announced on Monday, 19 November confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza in turkeys at a second poultry farm on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, following the initial outbreak at Redgrave Park Farm, near Diss. Shoots in the restricted zone (Suffolk and most of Norfolk) are being urged to ensure the outlet for game they shoot due to an export ban imposed on game dealers in the area.

A 3km radius Protection Zone is being placed around the premises on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. There has also been an extension to the existing surveillance zones.

DEFRA’s Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Fred Landeg said: “The laboratory test results highlight the importance of bird keepers in the area being extremely vigilant. It is essential they practice the highest levels of biosecurity and report any suspicions of disease to their local Animal Health office.”

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the National Gamekeeper’s Organisation are working with DEFRA to ensure the latest outbreaks have as little impact on shooting as possible.

Due to an export ban and movement restrictions, game dealers within the restricted area are beginning to reach their capacity as the majority of game shot in the region is normally exported to Europe.

The chairman of the Code of Good Shooting Practice, Bill Tyrwhitt?Drake, has called on shoot managers to remember that the Code requires them to have appropriate marketing arrangements for their anticipated bag.

“The current outbreak has affected markets for game within the restricted zone, which currently comprises all of Suffolk and most of Norfolk,” said Mr Tyrwhitt-Drake, “Game dealers are approaching capacity owing to the export ban (imposed by European law) which is unlikely to be lifted until well after the last outbreak.”

“We are concerned that shoots should do their best to secure outlets for fresh game in this difficult period if they have not already done so. Guns shooting in the restricted zone are not permitted to take birds out of that zone. Shoot managers should be urgently looking at local deep freeze capacity. Traditional domestic outlets, such as pubs, restaurants and specialist butchers are unlikely to take significantly higher numbers without action by shoots to secure markets. Shoots affected by the restrictions imposed by the outbreak should plan for their bag”.

“Shoot managers if in doubt should consult your associations on shooting within an AI zone and make sure you are aware of and comply with guidance and regulations issued by DEFRA”.