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Statement on Avian Influenza

Adults and juvenile sandwich terns on the shingle beach at Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Sandwich tern colony | © National Trust Images / Ian Ward

Avian Influenza is currently sweeping through the UK’s wild bird population, affecting many birds at the places in our care. We’re working closely with our nature conservation partners and government agencies to limit the impact of the disease.

What is Avian Influenza?

Avian Influenza, also known as bird flu, is a serious disease affecting bird populations across the world. The UK is currently experiencing its largest outbreak of Avian Influenza in wild birds ever recorded. The current strain is highly pathogenic, meaning it’s deadly to infected birds. This is putting many species that are already threatened under increased pressure, such as our terns and Atlantic puffins.

What we’re doing

While it’s not possible to halt the impact of the disease, we’re working hard to limit it. By coordinating with our partners, we’re ensuring the Government steps up its’ response to Avian Influenza in wild birds, reducing the pressures that these birds already face. We’re also following government advice and supporting their existing efforts by reporting incidents of Avian Influenza where they occur on the land in our care.

What you can do

Seeing dead birds is distressing for us all but please don’t touch or disturb them. If you see a dead or visibly sick bird on National Trust land, please report it to the Defra helpline on 03459 335577 (Daera on 0300 200 7840).

Although this strain of Avian Influenza is deadly to birds, the risk posed to humans is very low and it rarely affects humans.