The outbreak of deadly bird flu at a Bernard Matthews farm in Suffolk has brought renewed fears that Britain’s great outdoors will once again be out-of-bounds.
Tens of thousands of birds have been killed by gassing at the farm near Lowestoft. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has put in a number of measures to limit spread of the H5N1 virus.
With effect from tomorrow, 5 February, all access land designated by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 will be subject to the following restrictions
- No turkey sandwiches may be taken on to access land. Chicken sandwiches will be permitted if accompanied by at least 20g of mustard
- All domestic pet wildfowl, including cockerels, bantams, budgerigars, mynahs, swans, capons and pheasants, must be kept on a lead no longer than 1.5m when on access land, unless on a public right of way and accompanied by a dog
- All grouse must be shot in braces and must be cooked, on the access land, using a spirit-burning stove (eg Trangia), within thirty minutes of death
- Anyone with crow’s feet and/or a bird brain will be excluded from access land, whether they are a vice-president of the Ramblers’ Association or not
- All Britons who have visited Turkey within the last 18 months will be rounded up and detained for at least 28 days under the Terrorism Act 2000
The new regulations will be reviewed by Defra officials on 1 April.
A spokeswoman for the Department said: “Recent experience, particularly during the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001, leads us to believe it will be necessary to unnecessarily slaughter anything that moves on the fells and moors of England.
“This would obviously include ramblers and walkers as wells as deer, which are well-known carriers of Ebola virus, foxes, which are filthy creatures, and magpies, which can cause a great deal of sorrow or joy.
“Only by taking these precautions can we spread the maximum amount of panic among the public while ensuring peak compensation for those affected.”
Defra intends to accelerate the planned release of 500 wolves into the wild and extend the scheme to England and Wales in addition to Scotland, which was to have piloted the release. It is hoped the roaming wolves will act as a deterrent to those foolish enough to venture into the wilds.
Defra also issued a list of symptoms of the deadly H5N1 virus. Walkers should look out for the following indications:
- Feeling peckish. This is often accompanied by a tendency to gobble
- A pale skin accompanied by gooseflesh
- Broodiness and flights of fancy
Any walker exhibiting such symptoms should be wrapped securely in a large plastic bag and left in situ for collection by officials. On no account should mouth-to-mouth contact be made.
The Country Land and Business Association has called for the immediate closure of the countryside and the erection of armed barricades around Britain’s major cities to keep the towny oiks out of its green and pleasant land. The National Farmers’ Union is rushing emergency supplies of compensation forms to its members.
Full details of Defra’s response to the flu outbreak can be found on its website.