There have been a number of Avian Influenza H5N1 (bird flu) outbreaks in France in recent weeks, and we are aware that this is affecting the export of both gamebirds and eggs from France to the UK. The situation regarding the Avian Influenza H5N1 (bird flu) outbreak in France is constantly evolving, and discussions are ongoing between the UK and French agriculture departments, as well as with the Game Farmers’ Association.
In the last few days there have been several news cases of H5N1 in the Vendee and Loire Atlantique regions – which are some of the main suppliers of game birds and eggs to the British gamekeeping market – as well as in French game birds themselves. The situation is understandably causing some concern among the shooting community. However the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is optimistic that pheasants, in particular, will be available for the coming season, and that there is no need to panic.
Both the French government department – the DGLA – and the British Defra need to reach an agreement on both the import and export aspects of the current situation, and discussions are ongoing. It is likely that an agreement will be reached, however we are as yet unsure what that agreement might be.
The NGO are in regular contact with Defra ministers at the very highest level, and are working our hardest to ensure that the best possible outcome for gamekeepers and the UK shooting industry.
We would advise all shoot owners and managers to liaise with both your suppliers and your customers so that they are both aware of the situation, and are able to advise you on their stock and predictions for the next few weeks and months.