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Bird flu situation prompts an update on animal disposal

By David Porter

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The continued reporting of cases of Bird Flu across the country has prompted an update from the Scottish Government on how to dispose of dead birds.

Bird flu cases in Scotland have seen the death of several Whooper Swans
Bird flu cases in Scotland have seen the death of several Whooper Swans

Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people, so people are advised not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds.

If you find a single dead bird of prey, gull or wildfowl species (particularly wild geese, wild ducks, swans), or find five or more birds of any other species in the same location and at the same time, please report these incidents to Defra’s national telephone helpline on 03459 335577 (select option 7).

Dead wild birds found on private property -


If birds do not require reporting to the GB Dead Wild Bird Helpline, follow this advice 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 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 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.


The dead 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

Wildlife crime

If you find a deceased raptor/corvid that you believe to be the victim of wildlife crime, do not touch the bird.

This will help preserve any evidence of a potential crime scene.

Also, the dead bird may contain poisons that can be absorbed into the skin or contaminate the environment.

Please contact the police on 101 and ask if the matter can be referred to a Wildlife Crime Officer.

Alternatively, the incident can be reported anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

Testing of the Avian influenza H5N8 virus identified on a small commercial free range laying flock on Sanday Island, Orkney has been confirmed this to be a highly pathogenic strain.

Temporary Control Zones (TCZs) of 3 km and 10 km which were put in place on December 17 have been replaced by a 3km Protection Zone (PZ) and a 10 km Surveillance Zone (SZ).

These zones place movement restrictions on for example, poultry, carcasses, eggs, used poultry litter and manure.

The Chief Veterinary Officers for Scotland, England and Wales introduced new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds meaning it is a legal requirement for all poultry and other captive birds to be housed or otherwise kept separate from wild birds, and for all bird keepers to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease.

Since November 2 there have been a number of cases of notifiable avian influenza in England.

These outbreaks have been at a variety of different premises, including both captive birds and poultry.

This surveillance programme has also identified the presence of avian influenza H5N8 in dead wild birds from five areas in Scotland-

Cupar, Fife (swan collected on November 29– due to carcass degradation it was not possible to identify the species)

Dornoch Firth near Golspie (Greylag goose collected on December 3 )

Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire (3 x whooper swans collected on December 3)

Clackmannanshire (1 x mute swan collected on December 11)

Clackmannanshire (2 x mute swans collected on December 15)

Montrose, Angus (1 x whooper swan collected on December 16)

Full information can be found at https://www.gov.scot/publications/avian-influenza-bird-flu/pages/latest-situation/

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