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Keeping shoots in the picture over bird flu

As avian influenza continues to rate, Shooting Times will publish a weekly update on the prevention measures in place across the UK, writes Matt Cross

HPAI Bird flu teams

In order to keep readers up to date with the rapidly changing picture on avian influenza in the UK, Shooting Times will publish a weekly update, beginning this issue.

The bird flu outbreak, which began in October 2021, is continuing, with significant numbers of new cases in late September and early October this year. This is an extremely concerning situation with serious implications for shooting.

Most new cases are clustered in two areas. When an area has a large number of cases, a regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) is declared. At the time of going to press, a regional AIPZ is in force for the whole of Suffolk and Norfolk and parts of Essex ,and a second regional AIPZ is in place for the whole of the counties of Devon and Cornwall, including the Isles of Scilly, and for parts of Somerset. The restrictions within AIPZs can affect shoots and anyone operating a shoot in an AIPZ is strongly advised to contact a shooting or gamekeeping organisation for advice. Both AIPZs have recorded new cases this week.

Where a region has a smaller number of outbreaks, concentric 3km protection and 10km surveillance zones are declared around an individual outbreak. At the time of going to press, nine protection and 10 surveillance zones were in place across England and Wales. The most northerly is roughly at the centre of a triangle formed by Boroughbridge, Thirsk and Easingwold in North Yorkshire. Further west, protection and surveillance zones are in place around Out Rawcliffe, east of Blackpool. On the North Yorkshire coast, two overlapping sets of zones have been put in place. One is centred near Marton with the second around 2km to its north-west.

Following an outbreak south-east of York, protection and surveillance zones were brought in near Skipwith. The West Midlands has two overlapping zones north-west of Stoke-on-Trent covering the north- western part of the town, Crewe, Nantwich, Sandbach and Middlewich. In West Wales, protection and surveillance zones are in force in the general area of Hasguard and Saint Ishmaels, west of Milford Haven. In the south-east, protection and surveillance zones have been put in place centred between Highworth and Faringdon.

The situation is generally expected to worsen in the coming weeks as colder weather and migrating wildfowl arrive.