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Bird Flu Updates

See further down the page for individual case updates and the latest position.

In recent news, Wetheriggs Animal Rescue Centre at Greta Bridge, County Durham, was told it will have to cull all of its 400 birds, including the macaws, parakeets, and finches, after volunteers found several dead or dying chickens and Guinea fowl. Defra was immediately informed, and two vets arrived the same day to perform post-mortems and conduct tests. These tests confirmed that the birds had contracted the highly contagious virus, which is thought to have come from wild bird droppings.

This has led to several calls relating to pigeon fanciers who may also own a few chickens near their lofts, and there is a real risk that these lofts are vulnerable if they do not house their poultry undercover and follow strict biosecurity measures. It is very sad that those parrots and parakeets had to also be culled, considering they were hand reared and have a very long lifespan, but it does indicate the seriousness with which Defra take their efforts to control the spread of the disease.

We can all empathise with those volunteers, with one saying “I woke up this morning and thought ‘that was a bad dream’ but then realised it wasn’t a dream”. We as pigeon fanciers should pay attention, so I have taken the following information from the government website, which highlights what would happen if a notifiable disease were identified at the same location as your lofts. PMV vaccination is key, and now is the time to do it if you have not yet done so this year. I have no intention of scaremongering, but we need to fully understand the severity of the situation in the country right now. Those who say “pigeons cannot get it” need to wake up and get serious, viruses change and so should our attitude towards it, I cannot stress the importance of strict biosecurity measures enough, especially to those who fly on an allotment or keep a few chickens.

What do I do if I think my birds might have bird flu or pigeon paramyxovirus? Both bird flu (avian influenza) or Newcastle disease (paramyxovirus in pigeons) are a notifiable animal disease in all poultry and captive birds, including racing pigeons. If you suspect either of these diseases in your birds, you must report it immediately to the APHA by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

What happens once I’ve reported suspected disease in my birds? A government vet will visit your loft and wherever the sick birds are. They will look at the birds and, if necessary, take samples (usually swabs) and serve restrictions on your loft. If the bird has died, then they will likely undertake a post-mortem to look for clinical signs of notifiable avian disease. Samples will be tested at the national reference lab for bird flu and Newcastle disease. These tests look for the viruses causing the diseases and for antibodies to these viruses, to see if your birds currently have, or have had, the viruses.

What happens if bird flu is confirmed? If bird flu is confirmed in your birds, then unfortunately your birds will be culled to stop any spread of the disease. You will be compensated for the healthy birds that are culled and will also be required to either leave your loft empty for 12 months or cleanse and disinfect your loft, any equipment and vehicles that have come into contact with your birds. You will also be asked for your records of the races/shows/sales, etc your birds have attended recently and details of any people that have visited your loft. This is so that the potential source and spread of the virus can be sought.

Someone has bird flu near to my loft, what happens now? Disease control zones will be put in place surrounding the premises to prevent further disease spread. Some premises in the zones will receive a visit from a government vet to inspect the birds and provide reassurance that they are fit and healthy. Sampling of some birds from a small proportion of premises is also required as part of surveillance within the zones. These disease control and surveillance activities are essential to allowing the zones to be lifted and normal activity for bird keepers to resume within the zone.

Will my birds be culled if bird flu is nearby? There is no automatic culling policy for avian influenza or Newcastle disease outbreaks in GB. Birds will only be culled if: Avian influenza or Newcastle disease is confirmed in your flock following official lab testing of samples; or a veterinary risk assessment indicates that there is a strong likelihood that a premises keeping birds has significant links to an infected premises where disease has already been confirmed. These links could be via movements of birds, poultry products, people, equipment, or vehicles between the two premises. Sampling and testing would also be used.

How can I keep my birds safe? For the health and welfare of your birds, you can help prevent the disease by vaccinating your pigeons against Newcastle Disease, which is mandatory if you want to participate in shows, sales, domestic or cross-channel racing, and by practising strict biosecurity measures on your premises. These can be found on the RPRA website, but basically foot baths with an approved disinfectant, keeping wild birds and poultry away from your lofts, quarantine any newly acquired stock and keep records of any visitors to your loft, and if you can demonstrate good biosecurity with no cross contamination, your birds will be monitored but safe in the event of a nearby outbreak. 

Chris Sutton
CEO

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While a nationwide mandatory housing order came into effect on 7th November, there are specific rules which relate to racing pigeons.

A keeper of racing pigeons may: 

  • Let their birds out briefly for up to an hour, before feeding each day, to meet the birds’ welfare requirements. Lofts must not be left open for several hours, for the birds to come and go as they please. Contact between the racing pigeons, either directly or indirectly with wild birds must be minimised wherever possible.
  • Pigeons from the same loft may also be transported to a point some distance from the home loft and released/liberated and allowed to return to the loft as part of a training and conditioning programme. The vehicle and baskets must be cleansed and disinfected using a government approved disinfectant.
  • Provided the gathering is registered with APHA and the conditions of the General Licence are complied with, pigeon racing and multi-loft training are permitted whilst the AIPZ is in force. Birds may be basketed, marked and transported to a liberation site and released to fly back to their home loft. The transporter and baskets must be cleansed and disinfected using a government approved disinfectant.
  • Pigeons, doves and other Columbiformes may be transported to another location and released to fly free at functions and events, provided the birds are either gathered again and returned to their home premises as soon as practical, or they fly to return to their home premises. Care should be taken to avoid locations where there are large numbers of wild birds or domestic poultry. Events where birds from more than one premises are present is a bird gathering and must be registered with APHA and meet the conditions of the General Licence for Bird Gatherings.

See this advice on the gov.uk website.

Movement of pigeons into and out of the 3km Protection Zones and 10km Surveillance Zones are still subject to a general licence application. You can apply for licences for some low-risk movements from any Protection Zone or Surveillance Zones currently in force.

Licences for the movement within or from the Captive Bird Monitoring Controlled Zones currently in force are not required.

Specific licences

Specific licences cover a movement or activity in a disease control zone when not covered by a general licence. A specific licence will normally allow a one-off movement and will be subject to strict conditions based on disease control risk. To apply for a specific licence, use the Avian Influenza Licensing Service (AILS) to submit your application online.

Chris Sutton
CEO RPRA

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25/01/23: Case Updates in England

Following successful completion of disease control activity and surveillance within the zones surrounding the following premises, the 10km Surveillance Zones around each premises have been revoked:

Following successful completion of disease control activity and surveillance within the zone surrounding the premises near Amesbury, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England (AIV2022/152), the 3km captive bird (monitoring) controlled zone has been revoked (effective from 08:30 on the 23 January 2023)

New Cases in Scotland

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed on 21 January 2023 at a premises near Tain, Highland, Scotland (AIV2023/09). A 3km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises (zone in force from 22:05 on the 21 January 2023). All birds on the premises will be humanely culled.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed on 24 January 2023 at a premises near Grantown on Spey, Highland, Scotland (AIV2023/10). A 3km Protection Zone and a 10km Surveillance Zone have been put in place around the premises (zones in force from 17:55 on the 24 January 2023). All birds on the premises will be humanely culled.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed on 24 January 2023 at a premises in Clackmannan, Clackmannanshire, Scotland (AIV2023/11). A 3km Surveillance Zone has been put in place around the premises (zone in force from 19:50 on the 24 January 2023). All birds on the premises will be humanely culled.

Interactive Map

Fanciers can check where disease control zones and regional AIPZs are located in GB and if they are in a zone on the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) interactive map, and in Northern Ireland on DAERA’s interactive map.

High standards of biosecurity must be maintained by all fanciers as good practice for the health and welfare of their birds. Good biosecurity is an essential defence against diseases such as avian influenza and is key to limiting the spread of avian influenza in an outbreak.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) is in force across the UK. Separate AIPZ declarations have been made in each UK administration: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, mandatory housing measures are in force across the whole of England and Northern Ireland.

  • In these areas it is a legal requirement for all fanciers to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.
  • In addition, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors (partial exemptions apply to zoos and a limited number of other species – this includes racing pigeons, see above).
  • Definitive requirements are set out in the relevant AIPZ Declarations.
  • Biosecurity guidance and a biosecurity self-assessment checklist have been published by Defra to assist all bird keepers in instigating and maintaining good biosecurity including compliance with the mandatory AIPZ measures which, together with further updates on the latest avian influenza situation, can be found here

For further information on cases, and details of the measures that apply in the disease control zones currently in force, click on the appropriate country below:

To receive immediate notification of new cases and updated zones in Britain, fanciers can sign up to the APHA’s Animal Disease alert subscription service – further details can be found here.

Outbreak Case Summary

In summary, since the first case confirmed in this outbreak on the 26 October 2021, 324 cases of avian influenza have been confirmed in the UK:

  • England: 278 cases of HPAI H5N1
  • Scotland: 29 cases of HPAI H5N1
  • Wales: 10 cases of HPAI H5N1
  • Northern Ireland: 7 cases of HPAI H5N1

This is the largest ever UK outbreak of avian influenza (prior to this the largest number of cases was 26 cases in 2020/2021 and 13 cases in 2016/2017).

Fanciers must keep a close watch on their birds for any signs of disease, and seek prompt advice from a vet if they have any concerns. Clinical signs indicative of avian influenza must be reported in England to Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact to the local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

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20/01/23: New Case in England

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in other captive birds on 17 January 2023 at a premises near Bakewell, Derbyshire Dales, Derbyshire (AIV2023/08). A 3km captive bird (monitoring) controlled zone has been put in place around the premises (zones in force from 17:15 on the 17 January 2023). All birds on the premises have been humanely culled.

Case Updates England

Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance within the zones surrounding the following premises, the 10km Surveillance Zones around these premises have been revoked:

Following successful completion of disease control activity and surveillance within the zones surrounding the premises near Cheddleton, Staffordshire Moorlands, Staffordshire, England (AIV2022/96), the 3km captive bird (monitoring) controlled zone has been revoked (effective from 18:00 on 19 January 2023).

Case Update Scotland

Following completion of preliminary cleansing and disinfection and mandatory surveillance requirements, Scottish Ministers declared the end of the Protection Zone around the second and third premises near Turriff, Aberdeenshire (AIV 2022/212 and AIV 2022/218) on Thursday 19 January 2023. The Surveillance Zones remain in place around both sites (effective from 13:20 on 19 January 2023).

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13/01/23: New Cases in England

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 12 January 2023 at the following premises. A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around each the premises. All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.

New Case in Scotland

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 12 January 2023 at a premises near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around each the premises (zones in force from 19:05 on the 12 January 2023). All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.

Case Updates in England

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in poultry on 24 October 2022 at a third premises near Dartington, South Hams, Devon. Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance within the zones, the 3km protection zone has ended and the area that formed the protection zone is now part of the 10km surveillance zone (effective from 17:45 on the 13 January 2023).
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in poultry and captive birds on 9 October 2022 at a premises near Witham, Braintree, Essex (AIV 2022/100). Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance within the zones, the 3km protection zone has ended and the area that formed the protection zone is now part of the 10km surveillance zone (effective from 16.30 on 11 January 2023).

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10/01/23: New Cases in England

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 10 January 2023 at a fifth premises near Taverham, Broadland, Norfolk (AIV2023/03). A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the premises (zones in force from 17:00 on 10 January 2023). All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in captive birds on 10 January 2023 at a premises near Leominster, North Herefordshire, Herefordshire (AIV2023/04). A 3km Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone has been put in place around the premises (zone in force from 17:45 on 10 January 2023). All birds on the premises will be humanely culled.

Case Update in England

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial housed poultry on 22 October 2022 at a premises near Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire (AIV 2022/146). Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance within the zones, the 3km Protection Zone has ended and the 10km Surveillance Zone has been revoked (effective from 16:00 on 10 January 2023)

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09/01/23: New Cases in England

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 4 January 2023 at a third premises near Fakenham, North Norfolk, Norfolk (AIV2023/01). A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the premises (zones in force from 17:45 on the 4 January 2023). All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 9 January 2023 at a premises near Langwathby, Eden, Cumbria (AIV2023/02). A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the premises (zones in force from 16:00 on 9 January 2022). All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.

Case Update in England

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial housed poultry on 19 October 2022 at a premises near Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire (AIV 2022/139). Following successful completion of disease control activity and surveillance within the zone, part of the surveillance zone has been revoked (effective from 17:30 on the 6 January 2023).
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in a mixed flock of other captive birds on 11 October 2022 at a premises near Soham, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire (AIV 2022/107). Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance in the zone, the 3km captive bird (monitoring) controlled zone has ended (effective from 11:00 on 8 January 2023).

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05/01/23: New Cases in England

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 4 January 2023 at a third premises near Fakenham, North Norfolk, Norfolk (AIV2023/01). A 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone have been put in place around the premises (zones in force from 17:45 on 4 January 2023). All poultry on the premises will be humanely culled.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in commercial poultry on 30 December 2022 at a second premises near Diss, South Norfolk, Norfolk (AIV 2022/238).  A 3km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone were put in place around the premises. (effective from 20:45 on 30 December 2022).
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was suspected in commercial poultry on 29 December 2022 at a second premises near North Thoresby, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire (SOS AIV 2022/19). A 3km temporary control zone A and a 10 km temporary control zone B were put in place around the premises (effective from 14:00 on 29 December 2022), at 18:00 on the 3 January 2023 the Temporary Control Zones surrounding this premises were revoked.
  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in other captive birds at the following premises. A 3km captive bird (monitoring) controlled zone has been put in place surrounding each of the premises. All birds on the premises have been humanely culled.
  • near Skirlaugh, East Riding of Yorkshire, Yorkshire (AIV 2022/235) (effective from 20:00 on 24 December 2022)
  • near Bishops Castle, Ludlow, Shropshire (AIV 2022/236) (effective from 20:00 on 24 December 2022)

Case Updates in England

Following successful completion of disease control activities and surveillance in the zone, the 3km Protection Zone has ended and the area that formed the protection zone becomes a Surveillance Zone surrounding the following premises:

New Case in Scotland

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 was confirmed in poultry on 29 December 2022 at a premises near Forfar, Angus (AIV 2022/237).  A 3km protection zone and a 10 km surveillance zone were put in place around the premises (effective from 16:55 on 29 December 2022).

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13/12/22: New Online Reporting Service for Dead Wild Birds Launched

  • Defra has launched a new online reporting system to be used by the public to report dead wild birds in Great Britain, as part of the Government response to the ongoing avian influenza outbreak.
  • The new online system will be available to use 24/7, making is simpler and quicker for the public to report dead wild birds. It will not replace the Defra helpline, which will remain in place.
  • In Great Britain members of the public should use the new online reporting system or call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if they find one or more dead birds of prey (such as an owl, hawk or buzzard), three or more dead birds that include at least one gull, swan, goose or duck or five or more dead wild birds of any species
  • APHA and their contractors then collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand what risk posed to poultry and other captive birds is through understanding how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of wild bird, not all birds will be collected. 
  • Further guidance on reporting wild dead birds and details of the latest criteria used for how we prioritise reports made to Defra is published here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/report-dead-wild-birds.
  • Where dead birds are not required for surveillance purposes and disposal is necessary, on public land it is the responsibility of Local Authorities to safely collect and dispose of carcases and on private land, it is the responsibility of the land owner/manager. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/removing-and-disposing-of-dead-wild-birds
  • Our advice to the public is not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.  
  • In England and Wales the ‘Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales’ provides guidance on actions land managers, ornithologists and the general public, together with the government, can take to mitigate the impact of avian influenza on wild bird populations whilst protecting public health and the wider environment.

[Individual case updates before this date have been removed to keep the length of this article down. To see the latest active zones in England, refer to the the APHA’s interactive map.]

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08/11/22: Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) including housing comes into force across England

  • Mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds came into force for the whole of England from 00:01 on Monday 7 November 2022 until further notice.
  • The housing measures legally require all bird keepers to keep their birds housed and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease, regardless of type or size (partial exemptions apply to zoos and a limited number of other species – this includes racing pigeons, see above).
  • These measures were introduced following an increase in the national risk of avian influenza in wild birds to very high and extend the mandatory housing measures that were already in force in the hot spot area of Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Essex to the whole of England.
  • Further information of the measures that apply in the new England-wide AIPZ including housing measures can be found in the declaration.

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02/11/22: Risk Levels

  • The risk of incursion of highly pathogenic (HPAI) avian influenza H5 in wild birds in Great Britain has increased from high (i.e. event occurs very often) to very high (i.e. event occurs almost certainly).
  • The risk of poultry exposure to HPAI H5 in Great Britain is remains assessed as high (with low uncertainty) where there are substantial biosecurity breaches and poor biosecurity and medium (i.e. event occurs regularly) (with high uncertainty) where good biosecurity is applied.
  • The latest risk and outbreak assessments by Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) are published and available on GOV.UK at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu-in-europe  

Mandatory Housing Measures

Mandatory housing measures for all poultry and captive birds are to be introduced to all areas of England from 00:01 on Monday 7 November, following a decision by the United Kingdom’s Chief Veterinary Officer. The housing measures legally require all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow stringent biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the disease, regardless of type or size. This will extend the mandatory housing measures already in force in the hot spot area of Suffolk, Norfolk and parts of Essex to the whole of England. 

In a Protection Zone, a Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone or in the national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone now covering the whole of England, where there is mandatory housing, racing pigeons can be flown out for up to 1 hour before feeding each day, to meet the birds’ welfare requirements. Lofts must not be left open for the pigeons to come and go as they please. Contact between racing pigeons and wild birds, either directly or indirectly, must be minimised wherever possible. 

No movement of racing pigeons within, into or out of a Protection Zone or Surveillance Zone is allowed without a licence. This includes new birds moving to a loft permanently, or temporarily, or birds moving from a loft in a zone permanently or temporarily, e.g. on loan/sold to another fancier. No pigeons kept in a protection, surveillance or captive bird monitoring and control zone can attend any shows, sales, exhibitions, auctions, or other bird gathering without a licence. 

It is our strict observations of these instructions which has allowed us the freedom to race our pigeons outside of control zones this past season, so I would implore you all to continue with the compliance and keep abreast of the situation. For the latest on your loft location please make regular visits to the APHA Interactive Avian Influenza Disease Map

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24/10/22: Avian Flu Considerations

One of the main issues for fanciers caught up in a restriction zone during the racing season is not knowing how long those restrictions are likely to be in place. Many are left in the dark, and obviously if an area is closed for training and racing in April for a few weeks, it can severely affect the whole season for those fanciers because once they are able to race, their birds would not be at the same fitness level as their competitors.

I asked Defra and our main vet as to how long one could expect the restrictions to be in place from day one and received a mixed reply, from 6 weeks as a guess, to it depends on if there is a cluster of outbreaks in the area. If an outbreak occurs which requires the 3km Protection Zone and 10km Surveillance Zone, the owner of the premises will be required to completely disinfect the whole area before the observation period can begin, with the shortest time in the last year being 30 days to the lifting of restrictions. If other outbreaks occur in the same area, they are all dependant on the last outbreak being completely disinfected, which has a knock-on effect in timing, with the longest restriction time for an area in the last year being 111 days.

These two incidents which I have quoted are the shortest and the longest recorded for the last twelve months, but the mean average over all outbreaks in the last year is 71 days, which of course is 10 weeks.

These figures have been provided to me by our main vet, David Parsons, who also went on to show that since 1947 there have been other such avian notifiable disease outbreaks which have impacted our racing pigeon sport, all of which held their peak numbers over a 5 year period. 

David said: “It started with Newcastle disease in 1947, when thousands of outbreaks occurred over 28 years before effective vaccines were developed.  That then mutated to pigeon paramyxovirus, which was brought in around 1983 and took about 10 years to bring under control. This was quicker because the chicken vaccine against Newcastle disease protected pigeons against pigeon paramyxovirus. Politically it is of less interest because it can be distinguished from Newcastle disease of poultry, and neither generally cause significant human infections. 

“The good news is that we are now better prepared to deal with diseases that are this nasty. A significant difference is that avian influenza could mutate and become more infectious for people, at which point you will realise that Covid-19 was just a minor irritation. The optimist in me suggests that we may be able to bring this under control quicker than previous disease outbreaks, but realistically we could be looking at around 5 years. With luck this will be in localised areas from March 2023 onwards, and during the racing season most of us can carry on as normal, but losses should be expected to be higher due to lack of training. With that in mind, you should also be prepared to find that marking stations may get caught up in Protection and Surveillance zones, and as bird gatherings are not permitted in these areas, alternative marking stations more than 10km away from the current station would need to be sourced”.

Chris Sutton
CEO

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18/10/22: As we have moved into the winter bird migration period, there have been many outbreaks of Avian Influenza within the British Isles. We will be providing weekly updates on the ongoing situation and how you can track any restrictions within your area. As of 12 noon on the 17th October 2022 the whole of England has been placed under heightened biosecurity measures, as authorised by the Secretary of State, and although it has been recognised that racing pigeons are a low risk category, we are all required to follow these instructions. 

Firstly, in the general England-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone you should be vigilant and follow all biosecurity measures; movement of birds is allowed in this zone, but only if strict biosecurity measures are observed and records kept.

In a Protection Zone, a Captive Bird (Monitoring) Controlled Zone or in the regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex where there is mandatory housing, birds can be flown out for up to 1 hour before feeding each day to meet birds’ welfare requirements.  Lofts must not be left open for the birds to come and go as they please. Contact between racing pigeons and wild birds, either directly or indirectly, must be minimised wherever possible.

Outside of a Protection Zone, Captive Bird Monitoring Control Zone or the regional Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex, birds can be flown out as usual whilst following the biosecurity requirements in the England-wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone.

No movement of racing pigeons within, into or out of a Protection Zone or Surveillance Zone is allowed without a licence. This includes new birds moving to a loft permanently, or temporarily, or birds moving from a loft in a zone permanently or temporarily, e.g. on loan/sold to another fancier. No pigeons kept in a protection, surveillance or captive bird monitoring and control zone can attend any shows, sales, exhibitions, auctions, or other bird gathering.

It is our strict observations of these instructions which has allowed us the freedom to race our pigeons outside of control zones this past season, so I would implore you all to continue with the compliance and keep abreast of the situation. For the latest on your loft location please make regular visits to the APHA Interactive Avian Influenza Disease Map.

Chris Sutton
CEO RPRA

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18/10/22: Avian Influenza Prevention Zone

Following a change in the risk levels and an increase in the number of detections of avian influenza (bird flu) in kept and wild birds, the Chief Veterinary Officers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have declared a UK wide Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) to mitigate the risk of the disease spreading amongst poultry and captive birds.

This means that from midday on Monday 17 October, it is a legal requirement for all bird keepers in the UK to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu. Separate AIPZ declarations were made in each UK administration: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The existing AIPZ with mandatory housing continues to apply in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex.  

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31/08/22: New guidance on mitigating the impact of avian influenza in wild birds

Defra and the Welsh Government have today set out practical guidance to support land managers, the public and ornithological and environmental organisations in their response to the growing threat of avian influenza to wild birds, working alongside government action to monitor the disease.

The Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales sets out how these groups, together with the government and its delivery partners, can mitigate the impact of avian influenza on wild bird populations whilst protecting public health, the wider environment and the rural economy.

Landowners, local authorities and other organisations and members of the public can also download posters to display on their site when there is a risk of avian influenza or if avian influenza has been detected in the area.

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