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Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick wild birds that you find

If you find 

  • dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) 
  • other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey 

you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77).

Defra will collect some of these birds and test them to help us understand how the disease is distributed geographically and in different types of bird, not all birds will be collected.

Defra publish a report (updated regularly) on findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu) in wild birds in Great Britain and provide further details in our outbreak assessments.

Where dead birds are not required for surveillance purposes it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely dispose of the carcases.

The carcasses of wild animals, other than wild game, are exempt from the animal by-product (ABP) rules in the UK. However, if it is suspected that the animals were infected with a disease which can spread to people or animals such as avian influenza, the carcases must be disposed of as a category 1 ABP. See our guidance on animal by-product disposal.

Disposal of dead wild birds found at domestic premises

After contacting the Defra Helpline (03459 33 55 77 – select option 7) 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. 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)
  • 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
  • tie the bag and place it in a second plastic bag
  • 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.

Burial:

  • 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 likely to contaminate local water supplies.