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Wild bird surveillance

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Surveillance for Avian Influenza (AI) in wild birds in Wales is covered by the UK strategy for AI surveillance in wild birds.

It incorporates:

  • the wild bird survey for Avian Influenza viruses
  • the investigation of the causes of mass mortality events in wild birds.

The purpose of surveillance is:

  • to detect Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) of the H5N1 subtype in wild birds
  • to protect domestic poultry
  • to safeguard public health.

The survey concentrates on certain species of wild birds that experts believe have a greater potential role in the spread of AI viruses. For example gulls, ducks, geese, swans and waders. In order to carry out the survey, designated reserves are patrolled by wild bird ecologists and wardens. This includes patrols carried out on a regular, year-round basis at selected reserves across the UK. Samples are taken from selected dead wild birds and submitted for AI virus screening. Patrols are also carried out, on a voluntary basis, at other selected reserves. All testing is carried out by Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) (external link).

The investigation of mass mortality events in wild birds

The purpose of this survey is to establish the cause of death of large numbers of birds (die offs). This is part of more general wildlife surveillance. There are numerous reasons for die-offs occurring but they are unlikely to be as the result of AI. However, submitted samples are screened for AI viruses, amongst other things.

A 'mass mortality event' is an incident where 5 or more birds are found dead in the same location and at the same time. As part of routine wildlife disease surveillance post-mortem examination of birds may be undertaken for a mass mortality event.

If you find 5 or more dead birds in the same place you should contact the helpline 03459 33 55 77 and choose the Avian Influenza option.

For more information, visit Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) (external link).

Separate requirements are in place in Northern Ireland. Visit Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) (external link) for further information.