Opinion Former Article

BASC advising members on bird flu restrictions

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation is working with Defra to ensure that the latest outbreaks of avian flu are having as little impact on shooting sports as possible.

When the news of the outbreak broke, BASC's Head of Gamekeeping and Game Shooting Stewart Scull was attending an avian influenza stakeholder meeting and was able to spend time with the Contingency Planning Director at Defra Animal Health, making her aware of shooting activities likely to be taking place in the vicinity of the outbreak and the likely implications of any shooting ban.

BASC has also been able to brief Shadow Secretary of State for EFRA, Peter Ainsworth MP, who raised the impact of avian flu on shooting in the House of Commons. In response the Secretary of State for Defra, Hilary Benn MP, said restrictions last time were disproportionate and there were no plans to impose restrictions as earlier in the year. BASC has also taken part in five stakeholder teleconferences to represent shooters' interests.

Due to an export ban and movement restrictions, game dealers within the restricted area are beginning to reach their capacity as the majority of game shot in the region is exported to Europe.

BASC welcomes the call by the Chairman of the Code of Good Shooting Practice Bill Tyrwhitt-Drake reminding shoots managers that the Code requires them to have appropriate marketing arrangements for their anticipated bag.

Bill said: "The current H5N1 avian flu outbreak has affected markets for game within the Restricted Zone, which currently comprises all of Suffolk and most of Norfolk. Game dealers are approaching capacity owing to the export ban (imposed by European law) which is unlikely to be lifted until well after the last outbreak. "

"We are concerned that shoots should do their best to secure outlets for fresh game in this difficult period if they have not already done so. Guns shooting in the restricted zone are not permitted to take birds out of that zone. Shoot managers should be urgently looking at local deep freeze capacity. Traditional domestic outlets, such as pubs, restaurants and specialist butchers are unlikely to take significantly higher numbers without action by shoots to secure markets. Shoots affected by the restrictions imposed by the outbreak should plan for their bag".

"Shoot managers if in doubt should consult your associations on shooting within an AI zone and make sure you are aware of and comply with guidance and regulations issued by Defra".

ENDS

For more information please contact the BASC press office on 01244 573031

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