Defra is today trying to blame wild birds rather than poor biosecurity for the bird flu outbreak in Suffolk.

Defra's preliminary epidemiological report, published on its website, ignores the likelihood that one infected commercial turkey or duck brought the disease to the farm.

Defra also failed to take action quickly enough to prevent the potential spread of the virus into wild birds after its discovery. Last Friday in public, and more than a week earlier in private, the RSPB and other experts urged the government to plough and disinfect soil where the virus could still be thriving, and put in place bird scaring measures to keep wild birds away, yet these measures were only employed yesterday.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Conservation Director, said: 'There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that wild birds are to blame for bird flu in Suffolk. A migrating bird could have carried the disease here without showing symptoms but imported poultry could have done exactly the same.

'Defra has stepped up its monitoring of wild birds in the area and has unearthed nothing to say that wild birds are the carriers. The government openly admits that biosecurity at the farm is poor. It has been poor ever since bird flu was found and there is no reason to think it was any better before the outbreak.'

'There have been no cases of bird flu in wild birds in the UK or western Europe since August and the source of the Suffolk outbreak remains a mystery. It is staggering that Defra has taken almost three weeks to take action to prevent wild birds becoming the latest victims of the disease.

'If Defra really believed wild birds were implicated, then its delay in implementing bird scaring measures at the infected farm is shocking and bizarre. Defra and the poultry industry should be doing more to protect wild birds from coming into contact with infected farmed birds.'

The Defra report can be downloaded from their website (PDF, 573Kb).

Anonymous