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**IMPORTANT** AVIAN INFLUENZA - SCOTLAND GUIDANCE NOT TO CATCH UP GAMEBIRDS

It's been a dreadful shooting season from all aspects, whether quarry or target shooting.

**IMPORTANT** AVIAN INFLUENZA - SCOTLAND GUIDANCE NOT TO CATCH UP GAMEBIRDS

At this time of year many shoots in Scotland will be catching up gamebirds. However, Scottish Government's Disease Control Branch has been in touch with the below. If you are involved in catching up, then please read in full. If you know someone who catches up, then please forward this to them.

FROM SCOT GOV:

Dear Stakeholder

As you will be aware, due to an increased risk of incursion of avian influenza (bird flu) for wild birds, poultry and captive birds within the UK, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) was declared by Scottish Ministers, covering the whole of Scotland, on 11 November 2020. Similar legislation was enacted across all UK administrations.

Subsequently, measures that made it a legal requirement for all poultry and other captive birds to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, and for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease, were implemented on 14 December 2020.

Following feedback from stakeholders and government colleagues, and in light of recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza within the UK, we recognised a need to issue the following important outbreak-specific advice to all involved with gamebirds in Scotland.

The legal requirement to house all poultry or captive birds in the UK includes caught-up game birds. The aim of this requirement is to segregate poultry and captive birds, such as caught up game birds, from wild birds as much as is possible to reduce the risk of infection. Information and guidance on the housing of captive birds can be found at Biosecurity Guidance.

A further biosecurity measure integral to the legal restrictions applied, and key to reducing the risk of onward spread, is the removal of the General Licence permitting bird gatherings, and it is important to stress thatbird gathering events include the catching-up of wild game birds, to which the following restrictions apply:

- The catching-up of wild birds, where they come from multiple locations, but are then moved to a single location is still permitted under law. However,

- The catching-up of wild birds, where they come from multiple locations to a single location and are then moved onwards to different premises is not permitted under law, due to the general licence normally permitting this activity being withdrawn.

- It is also permitted to catch-up and bring birds together from different locations provided no birds leave until more than 13 days have passed since the last bird arrived on the premises.

However, there is a high risk that birds gathered from the wild could be infected with avian influenza, and by gathering them up and bringing them back to a farm/shoot/estate, this could infect the birds that are already there. Caught up pheasants are defined as poultry. Therefore, if disease is confirmed, this would result in a new infected premises. It is on this basis that all catching up activities are not recommended whilst the AIPZ measures are still in effect.

It should be noted that this is general advice for those whose activities do not fall within Protection and Surveillance Zones associated with an outbreak premises, within which specific legal regulations apply.

Avian influenza is a notifiable disease by law. If you find a single dead bird of prey, gull or wildfowl species (particularly wild geese, wild ducks, swans), or find five or more birds of any other species in the same location and at the same time, please report these incidents to Defra’s national telephone helpline (03459 33 55 77 – please select option 7).

Know the signs of bird flu in kept birds, which include loss of appetite, swollen heads, respiratory problems and multiple unexpected deaths. Involve your vet if you suspect bird flu, or call

your local APHA office.

Bird flu and its consequences can certainly impact game management and shooting, but it is also true that game managers and shooters are in a good position to detect and report outbreaks. Please be vigilant and report any concerns.

Scottish Government guidance on avian influenza can be found at:

www.gov.scot/avianinfluenza

You may wish to pass this information on to your members as appropriate.