The avian influenza prevention zone, which legally required all keepers of poultry in England to follow strict biosecurity protocols, has been lifted by Defra.
While biosecurity remains critical, it reflects a lower risk from avian flu as temperatures rise and most migratory wildfowl have now left overwintering grounds in the UK.
This winter has seen no cases of bird flu in commercial UK flocks, and the poultry sector retains its OIE disease free status.
In total 101 wild birds were found dead this winter across 20 separate sites close to or in areas identified as higher risk. As these findings have tailed off, the national risk level for wild birds has been reduced to low.
Defra’s latest impact assessment says there had been “substantially” fewer wild bird cases and only a handful of commercial cases in Europe this winter. It adds that not all Continental countries required free-range poultry to be housed, suggesting the environmental presence of the disease may have been lower.
UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone was lifted across England due to the scientific and veterinary evidence showing that the risk of this disease has now returned to low.
“It is essential that all bird keepers continue to maintain good biosecurity measures to protect their birds and help prevent outbreaks or spread of diseases.”