The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Nationwide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone just declared by Defra

From midday on Monday 17 October, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures

HPAI Bird flu teams

All of England, Scotland and Wales is now part of an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) as veterinary epidemiologists and public health experts struggle to bring the rapidly worsening outbreak of the disease under control. The declaration of the zone means that all poultry keepers, including keepers of captive gamebirds, are now required to introduce a suite of enhanced biosecurity measures intended to segregate wild and domestic birds. Even stricter rules, including a housing requirement, remain in force in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex. The East of England has been particularly hard hit by the disease with multiple new cases reported in the seven days prior to publication. The AIPZ does not include a nationwide requirement to house birds. However, this is being kept under constant review.

At the current time the regulations of the AIPZ do not prevent shoot days from taking place and do not prevent rough shooting, pest control or wildfowling. However, releasing of birds is affected and  shoots which are in any doubt about the regulations should immediately contact a shooting or gamekeeping organisation or their own vets for advice.

Northern Ireland is not covered by the AIPZ and separate measures around individual outbreaks are in place.

Scotland has recorded its first cases of the new season, with outbreaks and control zones declared in the Outer Hebrides and the Orkney Islands.

Shooting UK has spoken to Lindsay Waddell, former chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation (NGO) and a retired gamekeeper who said: “Any pest species that can access any premises are liable to be carriers so I fear this is going to roll on and on, like Covid. Will we have to learn to live with it? Now we have overwintering migrants coming in and it will be virtually impossible to keep bird flu out.

“The vast majority of people are not going to spread it but a lot of birds are.”

Liam Bell, another former chairman of the NGO said: “Today’s announcement was expected, and will surprise no one. Collectively, we need to play our part and do what we can to safeguard stocks and limit the spread of avian influenza. How much we can actually do and what effect these and other measures will have on the virus is open to debate, but we must do what we can. Today’s announcement is I fear, the first of many.”

Mike Swan, senior adviser at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust said :“While shooting is not restricted directly due to avian influenza, we should also be mindful of public perceptions if we carry on as normal in control zones. It is also important to consider how we are going to use shot game. Game dealers may well refuse to take birds from control zones, and shooting game which is not going to be used properly is a breach of the Code of Good Shooting Practice.”

The Defra announcement can be read in full here. Shooting UK will be updating this piece as we know more.