The remaining highly pathogenic avian influenza surveillance zone will no longer be in place from Thursday 22 December, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

The zone is in Co Monaghan, with a small area of Northern Ireland also included.

“It has been a hugely challenging and worrying time for poultry farmers across the country but they have reacted superbly to the threat of avian influenza.

“They have been responsible and practical in the face of huge challenges. Keeping avian influenza out of flocks is hugely difficult but the entire industry has worked collaboratively to protect the integrity of the sector,” he said.

In addition, he commended everyone from farmers, to processors, to vets and his officials for the work they have carried out.

“While the risk of avian influenza is a constant, I hope we can look forward to a brighter period ahead for the sector,” he said.

The Department emphasised that the country is still in the high-risk period for bird flu and will remain so until at least the end of April.

Wild bird fatalities continue to be reported, with wild birds continuing to test positive for AI across the country.

The precautionary biosecurity and confinement measures introduced by the Department in September and November 2022, respectively, under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, to protect the poultry industry, will remain in force.

These include the requirement to confine all poultry or captive birds so that wild birds and other animals do not have access to them and the application of stringent biosecurity measures for poultry and other captive birds.

All keepers of poultry are urged to continue to maintain the highest standards of biosecurity to protect their flocks and to report any suspicion of disease to their local regional veterinary office.