Submitted by Steve on 19:34, 13th Apr, 2017 | 0

The GSPCA would like to pass on an update in Guernsey from the UK authorities about Avian Flu who today have relaxed restrictions due to the mild spring for poultry and bird keepers.

Below is an update in the UK from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) -

We have today announced https://www.gov.uk/government/news/updated-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu that all poultry in England are to be allowed outside from Thursday 13 April following updated evidence on the risk posed by wild birds. 
The requirement to house or fully net poultry in Higher Risk Areas of England, introduced on 28 February to minimise the risk of them catching avian flu from wild birds, will be lifted. 
All poultry keepers must however continue to implement the enhanced biosecurity measures we introduced on 28 February. This includes taking steps to reduce the risk to their birds, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds indoors. If you have over 500 birds there are additional measures which you also must continue to implement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/updated-measures-to-protect-poultry-against-avian-flu . 

The ban on poultry gatherings announced on 20 December also remains in place. 
The decision to lift the housing requirement is based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice, which concludes that the level of risk to poultry in the Higher Risk Areas has now reduced to the same level as that across the rest of England. This is because of changes in the wild bird population: the majority of over-wintering migratory birds have now left the UK, and resident wild waterfowl are at their lowest levels and entering the breeding season when they become less likely to move long distances to forage for food. 

The risk of poultry becoming infected from H5N8 remains heightened and countries across Europe continue to experience outbreaks and observe cases in wild birds. Defra is stepping up surveillance of wild birds across the UK to inform our risk assessments. 
Poultry keepers who are planning to let their birds outdoors on Thursday are strongly advised to take action now to minimise any residual contamination in outdoor areas by following the guidance on GOV.UKhttps://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu#detailed-advice. They are also advised to consult with their private vet if they are worried about the risk of their birds becoming infected. 

This message was initiated by Animal and Plant Health Agency APHA. Contact apha.corporatecommunications@apha.gsi.gov.uk for more information.

Thanks to the advice the GSPCA have removed covers from a number of aviaries that were covered following the advice when the risks were high.

Steve Byrne GSPCA Manager said "With the number of birds we rescue and care for it was a real worry over the last few months and to have the news has certainly cheered the team as we now come into Spring and already seeing many baby birds needing our help."

"Avian Flu is likely to be a reoccurring risk each year with migrant birds but at least for the time being many birds can now enjoy much more freedom."

"We have many birds in outdoor aviaries at the GSPCA and many are now enjoying direct sunlight through the roof tops once again."

"You can see many of the birds at the GSPCA by joining one of our guided tours at the Shelter and to find out more please visit http://gspca.org.gg/blog/today-easter-guided-tour-gspca-and-see-behind-scenes-12-19-april-book-your-place-they-are-going ."

"With Spring it is highly likely you may come across baby birds and we have web pages full of advice by going to http://gspca.org.gg/animals/wildlife-advice or you can call us at the GSPCA on 257261."

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