Changes to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) in England: Gamebirds and Catching-up
Following a thorough risk assessment Defra have put in place additional precautionary measures around the movement of caught up gamebirds in areas where bird flu is present – this will help reduce the risk of the disease spreading and maintain our strict biosecurity standards.
· Defra’s approach to gamebirds is set out in the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain supported by the Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales.
The latest Gamebird Risk Assessment sets out the risk levels associated with the spread of this year’s strain of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 and the ‘catching up’ process.
The risk assessment confirms that at present, while avian influenza virus continues to circulate in wild birds across GB at unprecedented levels, the catching up and movement of wild gamebirds could include infected birds.
Following this risk assessment and recognising the conclusions of the assessment, we are updating our Avian Influenza Prevention Zone policy.
New rules will mean that recently caught up birds cannot be moved for 21 days. This will minimise the risk of spreading infection to new premises.
Under biosecurity rules, keepers are responsible for all kept birds and those already showing visible signs of infection should be reported to APHA.
Prior to release, pheasants are classified as kept poultry, however once gamebirds have been released (pop holes opened or roofs of pens removed), they are classed as wild birds from a disease control perspective and the person who released them is no longer classed as the keeper.
Surviving birds which are not shot over the winter are then “caught up” and brought back into captivity. These are then considered kept birds again and keepers must apply the same biosecurity rules as they do for all other kept poultry.
Keepers catch up pheasants to use as breeding stock for the following season. This reduces the reliance on imported eggs and poults from France. It is illegal to catch up pheasants in England after the 1st February.
Definitive requirements can be found in the AIPZ declaration available at Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) including housing measures: the whole of England - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Equivalent changes have also been made in Wales and Scotland see All-Wales Avian Influenza Prevention Zone | GOV.WALESand Avian Influenza Prevention Zone: January 2023 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) for further information