NORTHERN IRELAND has declared an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, making biosecurity a legal requirement.
It brings the country in line with the rest of the UK, following England, Wales and Scotland making a similar declaration on 11 November.
Strict biosecurity is now a legal requirement for poultry keepers across the UK.
The Republic of Ireland is also introducing similar measures from the beginning of December.
Authorities in Northern Ireland said highly pathogenic H5N8 had been detected in five wild birds in the country in recent weeks.
Virus now present
More than 100 wild birds have tested positive for H5N8 in Great Britain, and there have been three commercial cases.
Agriculture minister Edwin Poots said “In recent weeks the Department has detected highly pathogenic Avian Influenza in five wild birds across Northern Ireland.
“It is clear that the virus is now present here and I have therefore taken the decision to declare an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone from 1 December based on sound expert advice and in consultation with industry.
“This is a necessary precautionary step that requires all bird keepers to take appropriate action to review and enhance the measures to protect their birds from this highly infectious disease.”
Chief veterinary officer for NI, Robert Huey, added: “The measures in the AIPZ are a legal requirement for all birdkeepers and include stringent, mandatory biosecurity measures to help prevent the spread of the disease from wild birds, or another source, to poultry.
“At this stage, there is no requirement for poultry to be housed, but this will be kept under constant review.”