We have had to make some very difficult decisions regarding some of our residents. With eleven confirmed cases of Avian Influenza (bird-flu) in England, DEFRA have made it a legal requirement for all captive birds to be housed indoors, during the outbreak. This is to minimise the risk of transmission through contact with wild birds. When Avian Influenza is detected at a location, DEFRA cull all birds on the site. So, to protect our significant collection of owls, we needed to take quick action. We considered building appropriate housing for our ducks and geese, but the requirement to obtain planning permission first means this solution would take around 3 months to achieve. Furthermore, there is strong veterinarian advice against keeping poultry or waterfowl on the same site as raptors (birds of prey) – because of the risk of transmission of avian illnesses.
Fortunately, we have been able to re-home all our ducks and geese on a local farm. The farmer had an unused old barn, which had previously been adapted to house birds. He will keep them indoors until the current outbreak is over – and then they will have their own free-range outdoor enclosure.
While we are sad to say goodbye to our feathered friends, we believe this is the best course of action for them and the owls.