You are here:

Avian Flu

Bird Flu Information

Avian Influenza - What to do if you find a dead wild bird

The UK is currently experiencing a very large avian influenza (bird flu) outbreak and some wild birds may be infected.

The public is encouraged to report dead wild birds to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) helpline, telephone 03459 33 55 77

You should call the Defra helpline if you find:

  • one or more dead bird of prey or owl
  • 3 or more dead gulls or wild waterfowl (swans, geese and ducks)
  • 5 or more dead birds of any species

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

Wild birds are susceptible to a range of diseases and injuries and not all dead birds will have been infected with avian influenza.

Calls to the helpline about dead wild birds are triaged and not all birds will be collected. However, alerting Defra will enable them to monitor the spread of the disease in the wild bird population and help prevent kept birds at farms and smallholdings from being infected.

If dead wild birds are not needed for avian influenza surveillance purposes and landowners have taken the decision to remove carcasses, it is the landowner’s responsibility to safely arrange disposal of the carcasses.

If dead birds are on public land it is the local authority’s responsibility to arrange disposal of the carcasses where removal is warranted. If you have already alerted Defra and wish to make your local council aware of the dead birds, please contact your district or borough Environmental Health team.

Further advice on all aspects of bird flu is available on GOV.UK, visit:

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.

The Food Standards Agency has said that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. Properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.

If you are a keeper of birds (chickens, geese etc.) there is now a legal requirement for all bird keepers in Great Britain to follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks from the threat of avian flu. For more information and advice visit:

Last updated Tuesday, 15th November 2022

Was this information useful?

You said, we did