Animal Aid

One rule for them … Biosecurity breaches at Bernard Matthews highlight dangerous loopholes in game shooting waste disposal

Posted 21 February 2007

Media reports that the government may prosecute Bernard Matthews over lapses in biosecurity and Animal By-Products (ABP) disposal is a welcome development, but if the government is serious about combating the spread of avian flu and other pathogens, the same stringency must be applied to game shoots. Currently, they are able to leave deer and game bird carcasses rotting in open pits.

In the summer of 2006, Animal Aid challenged this exemption when it reported an open burial pit filled with industrial quantities of dead game birds and eggs at the prestigious Beulah shoot in South Powys. However, Powys Trading Standards declined to take action, claiming that the ABP was of wild origin and thus exempt. The pit was adjacent to a game farm and hatchery, indicating that the birds had been captive-reared and were, therefore, not wild.

The pit, filmed by an Animal Aid investigator, was swarming with flies and was a focus for carrion crows and rats. The pit has now been covered over as a result of the Animal Aid complaint.

Despite the clear risk of pathogen transmission, Welsh Assembly minister, Carwyn Jones said: 'There is no evidence to suggest that the [Beulah] pit poses any heightened risk to the spread of avian flu.'

Says Animal Aid Shooting Consultant, Kit Davidson:

'It makes no sense imposing strict regulations on the disposal of farm waste when farmed game bird carcasses - which present the same public health risk - are exempt on a technicality. If the government is serious about preventing an avian flu pandemic, dead birds cannot simply be dumped out in the open. Animal Aid is calling upon the government to bring game shooting legislation within ABP disposal regulations as a matter of urgency.'

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