The Scottish Government has launched an avian flu response plan amid the ongoing outbreak in wild birds.
Environment minister Gillian Martin has announced the Scottish Wild Bird Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Response Plan.
She is visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre in East Lothian to hear from stakeholders about the impact of avian flu and to discuss the action that the Scottish Government is taking in response.
20,500The number of seabird deaths in spring/summer 2022
She thanked organisations and partners in Scotland for their efforts to respond to the ongoing avian flu outbreak.
Speaking on her visit to the centre, Martin said that the last two years had been some of the most challenging on record for wild bird populations and the people who care for them.
In the year to September 30, 2022, surveillance data showed avian 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 sets out the multi-agency approach to monitoring and mitigating the spread of the virus.
The plan provides guidance to regulators, the general public, those involved in animal rescue, researchers and academics and environmental non-government bodies on issues relating to avian flu in wild birds.
Ms Martin said: “The avian flu outbreak in wild bird populations across the globe is extremely sad and has been difficult for us all to witness.
“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.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank people across a variety of different government agencies, organisations, charities, local councils and the general public who have been working tirelessly over the last couple of years to respond to this unprecedented avian flu outbreak.”