THE presence of Avian Influenza in two wild birds retrieved from the Waterworks Park in North Belfast has been confirmed.

New measures are now to be introduced as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone in the North from November 29. Disease control zones have been put in place around all infected premises to mitigate against onward disease spread.

Under the new housing measures all bird keepers in the North will be legally required to keep their birds indoors or otherwise separate from wild birds and follow strict biosecurity measures. This applies to owners of pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard or hobby flock.

Announcing the decision to introduce a housing order, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: “I took the decision to introduce the new housing measures in order to try to prevent an incursion of avian influenza into the poultry flock in Northern Ireland.

"It is now a legal requirement for all poultry and captive bird keepers to keep their birds housed or otherwise separate from wild birds. This decision was based on sound expert advice and in consultation with industry.

“This decision to house is an additional step to the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) introduced on the November 17 and another necessary precautionary measure requiring all bird keepers to keep their birds housed. These housing measures build on the strengthened biosecurity measures that were brought in as part of the AIPZ.

“Since my decision to introduce the housing order, we have now discovered avian flu in two wild birds in Belfast – that tells us unequivocally that the disease is already here and in our wild bird population. Keeping it out of the commercial flocks is now down to our poultry sector and the measures they take to keep the disease out. Adhering to, and constant review of, all biosecurity measures is the best weapon we have to avoid an incursion.

“My officials will continue to liaise closely with stakeholders and colleagues in GB and the ROI as the situation develops.”