Bird flu and gameshooting

Bird flu is on the rise. It was found in Norfolk in early June 2017. DEFRA confirms that H5N8 avian flu is in a small flock of chickens and geese at a premises near Diss in south Norfolk. A 3km protection zone and a 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the infected premises to limit the risk of the disease spreading. For more details click here and here (a map of the Protection and Surveillance Zones can be seen on page 14 of this link).

Earlier in the year, the government killed 60,000 pheasants, partridges and ducks in Lancashire after finding signs of bird flu. In this video, Our reporter Alex Howell goes to Hy-Fly Game Hatcheries to meet owner Graham Holden find out what happened – and what effect bird flu will have on gameshooting. 10km Surveillance Zones are in place around Wyre, Lancashire. For more details click here and here.

DEFRA says:
“Gamebirds tend not to travel far after release – often less than 1km. They continue to be fed on site through containers which cannot be accessed by wild birds and are rounded up regularly by keepers. Gamebirds for shooting are only let out during the summer. The H5N8 virus does not survive in the environment during summer for as long as it does in the winter, so they are less likely to become infected through environmental contamination. Gamebirds also tend to prefer the company of other gamebirds and therefore are unlikely to come into contact with poultry.

“Those with captive birds, including gamebirds, within the 3km and 10km zones should note that restrictions include a requirement to house or to otherwise separate all kept birds from wild birds. The restrictions also require increased record keeping for visitors and bird movements.”

No gamebird releasing is allowed within the 3km and 10km zones and any movement of birds into or out of the zones requires a licence from a Government veterinary inspector.

Be vigilant and report any dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls or five or more dead wild birds of other species, when encountered in the same location in unusual circumstances, to the DEFRA helpline on 0345 933 5577. Details of how to spot the symptoms of bird flu can be found here

Official guidance and advice on all relevant aspects of avian influenza – from implementing biosecurity measures to spotting symptoms and how to go about reporting suspected cases – are available in a directory on the Defra website. It can be viewed by clicking here

More info
The full measures, as set out in the Order, can be read here. A DEFRA interactive map is also available and kept up to date so you can check whether the restrictions affect you.

What are the risks of bird flu?
The risks to humans from bird flu are small. Fewer than 1,000 people worldwide have contracted bird flu in various forms – though half have died of it. You need prolonged contact with strains of bird flu including H5N1 and H7N7. The current restrictions are practise for when bird flu viruses mutate into a human form that causes a pandemic.

Public Health England advises that the risk to public health from the virus is very low and the Food Standards Agency is clear that bird flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.

The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone that was in force across most of England was lifted on 15 May and was replaced on the same day by a new Prevention Zone that applies only to certain defined areas of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside. Click here for details.

What does the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation say?
“All those with captive birds, including gamekeepers, within the 10km ring of the latest bird flu outbreak in Norfolk must read and fully abide by their legal obligations,” says a spokesman. “These include no gamebird releasing and the need to get a licence before moving birds into or out of the Surveillance and Protection Zones. Any failure to do so is an offence under the Animal Health Act 1981.

“We ask keepers elsewhere in England and Wales to ensure that their biosecurity arrangements are also inline with appropriate best practice regimes. Please keep checking for updates on the NGO website and on our social media.”

What does BASC say?
For BASC on bird flu, visit

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