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Avian Influenza: Pigeons

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 10th January 2008.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will consider the merits of taking steps to review the status of the Channel Islands in relation to restrictions on pigeon flights arising from measures to combat avian influenza.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Marine, Landscape and Rural Affairs) and Minister for the South East), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Avian influenza can potentially be a fast spreading disease so it is important that we have robust measures in place to mitigate the risks. Therefore, we require any birds from outside the British Isles attending any type of bird gathering to first be resident in the British Isles for 28 days, to allow time for any clinical signs of disease to become evident. This mitigates the risk that birds might be infected when they enter the British Isles but are not yet showing clinical signs; that is, they are incubating the disease. When birds are gathered together it provides a high risk of dissemination of infectious disease should it be present.

The geographical position of the Channel Islands means they are closer to continental Europe than the UK mainland, making it illogical to treat the Islands differently from France. For these purposes the islands are considered to be part of continental Europe rather than the British Isles. We therefore do not permit birds from the Channel Islands to attend gatherings in the British Isles without first being in the British Isles for 28 days. We have no plans to change this requirement.

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