Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Gamebird releases and hen/poultry flu – an astounding threat to take – Mark Avery


Pheasant. Picture: Tim Melling

Right this moment the RSPB requires a moratorium on gamebird releases, due to hen/poultry flu, in an article within the Guardian.

I’m fascinated about hen flu and in gamebirds.

Because of Wild Justice’s exercise on gamebird releases I’m quoted on the very finish of the article. The quote I gave the Guardian was barely longer than what they used (I’m not complaining) and what I really mentioned was this:

Given how little is known concerning the unfold of avian flu it is unnecessary to launch tens of hundreds of thousands of captive-bred birds into the countryside for capturing (however then once more – it by no means does!). They represent an pointless menace to wild birds and home poultry. Because of a mixture of Wild Justice’s profitable authorized problem (which limits releases in England), Brexit and avian flu in continental Europe (from which hundreds of thousands of gamebird eggs and chicks are imported in regular years) UK launch numbers shall be decrease in 2022 – however will nonetheless quantity to hundreds of thousands of gamebirds until the authorities act now.


I solely point out that as a result of I’m now going to touch upon Defra’s quote within the article – and I don’t know precisely what they initially mentioned.  However right here is the printed quote from Defra:

We recognise the numerous menace posed by extremely pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) to the UK’s treasured wild hen populations,” a spokesperson mentioned. “There’s a ban on releasing gamebirds in all management zones, and companies that want to launch them exterior of zones are required to take care of stringent biosecurity requirements and report any indicators of avian influenza to minimise the unfold of illness.


This lays naked Defra’s psychological block on hen flu – it may well’t get its head round wild birds in any respect.  All Defra is saying is that in areas very near the only a few business premises with latest outbreaks of hen/poultry flu then gamebird releases usually are not allowed. Large deal!

We type of know, even from Defra’s pitifully insufficient so-called surveillance in wild birds (see right here for earlier blogs) that hen/poultry flu is now in all places, by which I imply within the final 5 weeks: from White-tailed Eagles in Argyll and Bute to Mallard in Braintree, from Puffins in Fife to  Mute Swans and Canada Geese in Nottingham, from Herring Gulls in Bristol to a variety of gull species in Shetland, Orkney, Moray, Highland, Borders, Tyneside, Sunderland, Norfolk, Huntingdonshire, Essex, London and Sussex, and from a Gannet in  Pembrokeshire to a Mute Swan in Mansfield (see Defra web site on instances in wild birds).  The entire nation is a hen/poultry flu zone.

And but, and but, Defra is content material to launch into the countryside doubtlessly as many (most likely not as many – see my quote above for explanation why) non-native gamebirds as the whole wild hen inhabitants put collectively? Actually? There shall be a Pink-legged Partridge or Pheasant launched for each Robin, Blackbird and Wren within the nation, and one for each duck, goose and swan, and one for each crow, woodpecker and pigeon, and one for each… nicely you could have acquired the purpose though Defra has not. One captive-bred, non-native gamebird for each wild hen at a time when hen/poultry flu is sort of in all places (though we don’t fairly know that as a result of the Defra surveillance is woeful).

It’s troublesome to name captive-bred, non-native gamebirds wildlife, on this nation, however given Defra’s keenness responsible wild animals as illness reservoirs that is an astounding threat to take. If Defra actually believes, as they carry on saying, that wild birds are the principle menace to poultry (which they is perhaps) then how does including tens of hundreds of thousands extra gamebirds to the countryside appear to be something apart from an motion that can construct up extra bother this winter?


I’ve to confess that once I first heard of the RSPB place on gamebird releases I puzzled whether or not they have been stretching issues a bit – however now I don’t.  I feel they’re proper. And Defra is caught on the hons of a dilemma of its personal making and wishes to clarify to us all how gamebird releases are secure and risk-free, and due to this fact why they’re letting them go forward at the moment with hen flu being so prevalent.





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