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825% rise in bird arrivals thought to be due to risk of bird flu


The Scottish SPCA has seen a massive 825% rise in the number of birds arriving in its care thought to be due to the threat of bird flu.

From 1 December 2020 to 31 January 2021, 37 birds were admitted in to our centres. This is compared to just four for the same period a year ago.

Our animal helpline saw a 280% increase in the number of calls about bird flu since it was reported to have entered the country in November. 57 calls came in from 1 November 2020 to 24 January 2021 and only 15 for the same period the previous year.

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said, “The increase in the number of birds arriving with us is very concerning.

“There have been confirmed cases of bird flu infecting commercial poultry in Orkney but this has now been managed and there is no longer a threat.

“Recent reports confirmed avian influenza had infected kept gamebirds near Leven, Glenrothes. The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) is managing the situation and in order to limit the further spread of the disease, appropriate restrictions have been imposed and the remaining birds will be humanely culled under the Animal Health Act 1981. 

“We would like to remind members of the public that the majority of cases of bird flu are being seen in migratory birds and as long as the mandatory precautions are followed for domestic and commercial poultry, the risk of incursion remains at a medium level for poultry with high biosecurity. The risk is high for poultry with poor biosecurity.

“Guidance on how to protect birds can be found on the Scottish Government website here.

“Should anyone discover a group of deceased birds; this could mean they died after being infected with bird flu. If you find a single dead bird of prey, gull or wildfowl species, particularly wild geese, wild ducks, swans, or find five or more birds of any other species in the same location and at the same time, please report these incidents to Defra’s national telephone helpline on 03459 33 55 77 and select option seven.

“Wild birds can carry several diseases that are infectious to people, so do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

“We know that the threat of avian flu is a worry for owners but there is never an excuse for abandoning an animal. It is an offence punishable by law. Our team is here for those looking for advice.

“If anyone finds an abandoned animal then they should contact our animal helpline 03000 999 999.”

Should anyone suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds then it must be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Telephone numbers can be found here.

 Abandoning an animal is an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. Anyone found guilty of doing so can expect to be banned from keeping animals for a fixed period or life.


If anyone is concerned about an animal, please do not hesitate to contact our confidential animal helpline on 03000 999 999. We need your support today. From as little as £1, you can save lives. Please support the Scottish SPCA today.