Avian flu: Poultry restrictions to end on Monday

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Restrictions on poultry and captive birds in Wales to limit the spread of avian flu are to be lifted on Monday.

Orders to keep them indoors were given in December following outbreaks across Europe, with cases then arising in Carmarthenshire and Conwy.

Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said as the risk had fallen, the prevention zone expiring on 30 April would not be renewed.

Chief vet Christianne Glossop urged all keepers of birds to remain alert.

Cases had been found in domestic birds in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire, and wild birds in Llanelli and Conwy.

The restrictions had prompted worries from NFU Cymru that they would damage the free-range egg and meat status of poultry flocks.

The rules were eased at the end of February to allow poultry to be kept outdoors.

'Constant threat'

Announcing the end of the prevention measures on Wednesday, Ms Griffiths said the most recent assessments found a low-to-medium risk of wild waterfowl being infected, and low but heightened for poultry farms, depending on the biosecurity measures in place at each farm.

"This level is consistent with November 2016, when disease was present across Europe in sporadic outbreaks and occasional wild bird findings were being reported," she said.

"Therefore, I am pleased to announce, following the expiry of the current Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 30 April, this will not be replaced.

"Whilst I am sure this is welcome news it is important to remember avian influenza remains a constant and real threat to our poultry and other captive birds."

Ms Glossop added: "I would like to stress the need for all keepers of poultry and other domestic captive birds to remain alert for signs of the disease and to contact their private veterinarians if they have any concerns.

"If anyone suspects disease they should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately."

A helpline for people to report findings of dead wild birds remained open on 03459 335577.

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