Sent: 01 March 2017 11:54
Subject: Extension of AI Prevention Zone in Northern Ireland
You may wish to note a DAERA press release this morning notifying bird keepers that the Avian Influenza (AI) Prevention Zone will remain in force until at least the end of April 2017. However, from 17 March the requirements of the zone will change, meaning that keepers may let their birds out provided they put in place additional biosecurity mitigation measures to minimise the risk of infection from wild birds. We will seek views on the additional measures under consideration in due course before we finalise these.
An AI Prevention Zone was first declared from 23 December 2016, and was renewed on 20 January 2017 to last until 11:59pm on 16 March 2017. The current zone, which continues to have effect, requires all poultry and captive bird keepers to apply heightened biosecurity including keeping their birds indoors if possible, or otherwise separated from wild birds.
In light of the continuing risk across the UK and Europe, the Department has decided that a further zone should be declared lasting until the end of April. However, based on expert and industry advice it was considered that it would be proportionate to amend the zone from 17 March to allow some birds to be let out under additional biosecurity mitigation measures, to protect our vital poultry industry while still minimising disease risk. If keepers are unable to comply with these additional biosecurity requirements, then they must continue to house or otherwise separate their birds from wild birds. In any event keepers will still have the option to house their birds – for many this will continue to be the easiest way to protect them from AI.
While further guidance on the likely additional biosecurity requirements and how this will work will issue closer to the time, there are steps that keepers should consider taking now in order to make their rangeunattractive to wild birds prior to 17 March – it is vital that these activities start as soon as possible:
Make your birds’ range unattractive to wild birds:
· Net ponds and drain waterlogged areas of land. If this isn’t possible, then can you fence them off from your birds so they cannot access it whilst ranging, or use an alternative paddock that doesn’t have access to water
· Remove any feeders and water stations from the range, or ensure that they are covered sufficiently to restrict access by wild birds
· Consider using decoy predators or other livestock (such as sheep or cattle) on the range, or allowing dogs to accompany you on foot patrols around the range. You could also consider bird scarers if their use is appropriate for the area (see NFU Code of Practice on bird scarers)
Further information will be available at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/avian-influenza-ai. The ban on gatherings of poultry, game birds and waterfowl also remains in force.
Bird keepers in Northern Ireland are reminded of the importance of excellent biosecurity and anyone who suspects an animal may be affected by a notifiable disease must report it to their local Divisional Veterinary Office. Contact details can be found at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/contacts/daera-direct-regional-offices
You may wish to pass this alert on to your members as appropriate.
Animal Disease Control & Trade Policy Branch
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs
É 028 90520872 (ext 20872)