The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has urged bird keepers to be extra cautious and to heighten biosecurity due to the increasing risk of avian influenza (AI) in NI.
It comes after the highly pathogenic form of the disease was detected in black headed gulls at Belfast Harbour, Comber, Coalisland and Magherafelt in recent days.
That mirrors the situation in Britain where a wave of the disease has spread through black-headed gull populations, mainly in the midlands and northern parts of England.
Despite the threat from wild birds, DAERA lifted the AI prevention zone and ban on poultry gatherings from 2 June 2023. Those measures had been in place since October 2022.
Anyone who finds dead waterfowl or other dead wild birds, particularly gulls or birds of prey, should contact the DAERA helpline (0300 200 7840) immediately or the local DAERA regional office.
According to UFU policy manager James McCluggage, reporting of bird carcases is critical to disease surveillance. He urged bird keepers to follow best biosecurity advice, including washing and disinfecting equipment and fencing off ponds or standing water in free-range systems.. “Ruminant livestock farmers also need to be cautious of infected birds. Bird carcases have been known to cause and spread botulism,” added McCluggage.