Avian Influenza (bird flu)
The risk of highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus (bird flu) increases during the winter. Migratory waterfowl (which includes include ducks, geese and swans) and gulls have been identified as the most likely cause of HPAI incursion. This is based on experience over the last two winters, coupled with scientific and veterinary opinion. There have been multiple recent findings of HPAI N5N1 in wild birds from sites across Great Britain.
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Report and dispose of dead birds
You should call the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:
- one or more dead bird of prey or owl
- 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
- 5 or more dead birds of any species
Please also inform NRW helpline on 0300 065 3000.
Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick wild birds that you find.
Sick or injured wild birds should not be reported to the Defra helpline. Instead, please contact the RSPCA (in Wales and England) on 0300 1234 999, who may be able to offer assistance.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) will collect some of the dead wild birds reported. They will test them to help us understand how disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird. Not all birds will be collected.
Where dead birds are not required for surveillance purposes it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely dispose of the carcases.
Disposal of dead wild birds found at domestic premises
After contacting the Defra Helpline (03459 33 55 77) to report the dead wild birds, if the birds are not required for surveillance purposes, follow the advice below for their disposal.
Disposal in household or municipal waste refuse
- if possible, wear disposable protective gloves when picking up and handling dead wild birds. If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a make-shift glove
- place the dead wild bird in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bag
- when the dead wild bird has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal household waste (lidded bin outside)
- remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag
- tie the bag and dispose of it in the normal household refuse bin
- the dead wild bird can be buried, but not in a plastic bag
- the depth of the burial hole must be sufficient to prevent animals scavenging and gaining access to it – at least 60cm deep is advised
- location must not be near any watercourses, or places likely to contaminate local water supplies