Pheasants culled following avian influenza outbreak
On what should have been Saturday “the glorious” 12 August, gamekeeper John Goodenough noticed some unusual behaviour in his young pheasants. Mr Goodenough, who runs a sporting business across several estates near Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, called the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) when he discovered large numbers of poults had died and further birds were ‘stargazing’, had cloudy eyes and purple legs.
Initially, APHA took some convincing to send team members and vets to check the cases. However, following tests the presence of avian influenza (AI) was confirmed.
The following day a Defra team was sent up to carry out the cull of all 3,800 penned pheasants with high-powered air rifles.
Mr Goodenough said while the culls were carried out competently, he urged shooting organisations and Defra to work together to form a more consistent set of protocols for dealing with AI outbreaks in gamebird populations. Mr Goodenough was also saddened at the lack of support he had been offered since the cull.
Temporary 3km protection and 10km surveillance zones were set up around the outbreak as precautionary measures.
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