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Hopes high for change of regulations to support game bird imports

A rule which hampered the import of game bird chicks and eggs may be removed.

bird flu

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Bullimore/REX/Shutterstock (8383502l) The road leading to Bridge Farm which has been closed during the culling of 23,000 chickens after Avian Influenza was confirmed at the site. Bird flu suspected at Suffolk poultry farm, Redgrave, UK - 15 Feb 2017

When the UK left the EU, a number of the European Union’s laws were incorporated into UK law. One of these rules prohibited the import of chicks or eggs from areas which had been affected by bird flu until at least 90 days had passed since the disease was contained. This limit was subsequently reduced to 30 days in the EU, but the change was not mirrored by UK law. (Read bird flu and next season – a headkeeper writes.)

Now there are hopes that another rule change in the EU will lead to a reciprocal change in the UK, which could see the limit reduced to 30 days. This would make it much more likely that areas which are currently hit by bird flu in France would be able to export chicks and eggs in time for the UK rearing season.

Glynn Evans, BASC’s head of game and wildlife management, said: “There is the potential for this to be good news for our sector, but there is insufficient detail available to give definitive advice to the shooting community at present.

“It’s reassuring that this important issue is being considered by decision makers. Our sector needs some good news after a tough year in 2022 because of avian influenza. However, the timescales are very tight and we must remain cautious, as it is uncertain if any changes will be in place in time for next year’s rearing season.”

The situation in France is increasingly severe. A total of 191 cases of bird flu in captive birds have now been registered across the country. Of these, more than 100 are in major gamebird rearing areas. This comes despite increasingly radical and severe measures to contain the disease being taken by the French government. The French Agriculture Ministry has now reportedly slaughtered 1.4 million birds in the department of Vendée in an attempt to slow the outbreak down.

In the UK the situation differs across the nations and regions. In Scotland the situation is improving with no new outbreaks detected in the week before going to print. Wales now has no premises under restrictions. In England, new cases are continuing with a heavy concentration in the original hotspot area of Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex, but with occasional new cases in other parts of the country.