Scotland launches plan to tackle bird flu in wild birds


The Scottish government has published a new response plan to deal with the issues posed by bird flu in wild birds.

The Scottish Wild Bird Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Response Plan, published on Friday 11 August, sets out the multi-agency approach to monitoring and mitigating the spread of the disease. The plan provides guidance to regulators, the public, those involved in animal rescue, researchers and environmental bodies on issues relating to bird flu in wild birds.

Bird flu has killed many thousands of seabirds across Europe over the past two years, including in Scotland (Peter Coffey / BTO)

Scotland's Environment Minister, Gillian Martin, thanked the country's organisations and partners today for their efforts to respond to the ongoing bird flu outbreak in wild birds, and explained that the last two years have been some of the most challenging on record for wild bird populations and the people who care for them.

"The avian flu outbreak in wild bird populations across the globe is extremely sad and has been difficult for us all to witness," she said.

"In most cases there is no alternative but to let the disease run its course, however the effectiveness of our multi-agency response in monitoring the spread of the virus can build our understanding of the outbreak and what mitigation measures might be helpful. The publication of this plan is designed to support this.

"Our understanding of the outbreak in wild birds is also important in helping us to minimise the impact on kept birds and poultry, who we cannot forget have also been significantly affected by this virus."

In the year to 30 September 2022, surveillance data showed bird flu was present in 34 wild bird species in Scotland. In the spring and summer of 2022, a total of approximately 20,500 seabird deaths across 160 locations were reported to NatureScot.

The Scottish Wild Bird Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Response Plan can be found online here.