Scottish wild bird highly pathogenic avian influenza response plan

This document sets out the approach that the Scottish Government and its agencies will take to respond to an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild birds in Scotland.


Aim of the plan

1. This document sets out the approach that the Scottish Government and its agencies will take to respond to an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild birds in Scotland. It also provides guidance to regulators, the general public, those involved in animal rescue, researchers and academics and environmental non-government bodies on issues relating to HPAI in wild birds. This includes what to do where there are suspected incidents of HPAI in wild birds or confirmed incidents in locations. The plan takes account of recommendations identified by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Co-Convened Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, published on 24 January 2022. It should also be read alongside the Scottish Government's Exotic Animal Disease Contingency Framework Plan[1] and the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain[2], which outlines measures to be taken if Avian Influenza was suspected or confirmed in poultry, captive or wild birds.

2. This plan has been developed by Scottish Government and NatureScot in consultation with the Scottish Avian Influenza Wild Bird Task Force, drawing on information from the 2021/22 outbreak. It is a live document and will be subject to review, taking into account lessons learnt, policy developments, the latest scientific advice and comments from operational partners and stakeholders.

3. This plan has been developed around the impacts and effects of the current strain of HPAI H5N1. A strain of HPAI with a higher zoonotic potential (i.e., its ability to spread between birds and humans) would likely require additional precautions and mitigation not addressed in this plan.

4. This document is structured into sections to provide:

  • a brief overview of HPAI and routes of incursion in Great Britain,
  • the roles of the Scottish Government and their delivery agencies in assessing and responding to HPAI in wild birds,
  • the role of Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the national reference laboratory in surveillance for avian influenza in wild birds,
  • the legislative framework to manage this response,
  • a framework for licenced activities (e.g., research, shooting),
  • guidance and links to published guidance regarding HPAI for a range of stakeholder audiences.
  • information about existing surveillance and monitoring and future needs and,
  • information on communication and information distribution.

5. Additional information about previous outbreak of HPAI and what is known about their impact on wild birds can be found in the Annexes.

6. This document is applicable to Scotland only. For comparable information on approaches in England and Wales see the Mitigation Strategy for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds in England and Wales.

Animal health

7. Animal health, including disease control, and wildlife conservation and management, is a devolved matter, and it is for the devolved administrations to assess the disease risks and respond accordingly. However, each administration seeks a consistent and coordinated approach to disease control across the four UK administrations, where possible.

8. While this document is applicable to Scotland only, it supports the GB-wide approach to avian influenza as set out in the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy.

Legislative basis

9. The Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain[3] details the Scottish Government's response to detection of HPAIV in wild birds. The Avian Influenza (H5N1) in Wild Birds (Scotland) Order 2007[4]) provides for the introduction of controlled areas around locations of confirmed findings of HPAI H5N1 (i.e., the location from which the wild bird/wild bird carcass was collected). Measures implemented have the aim of preventing the spread of the disease to poultry or other captive birds (and to protect public health) and are put in place through the declaration of disease control areas: the default position is that a wild bird control area (WBCA) and wild bird monitoring area (WBMA) are declared.

10. The legislation is only relevant where the strain identified in wild birds is highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 which presents a significant risk to animal and human health. Experts agree that this current strain of HPAI H5N1 in circulation (clade does not meet the criteria as it is not the same highly zoonotic strain that formed the background to the legislation created and does not currently pose a significant risk to human health[5] .



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