According to the Animal & Plant Health Agency (part of DEFRA), there is currently no evidence of coronavirus in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans.
There is a risk that wildlife could carry the virus on their hair or feathers for a short period of time, just as any other surface or objects which can carry the virus from one place to another. Where as we touch our pets and companion animals regularly, we don’t with wildlife, so the risk is even more reduced.
There is no scientific evidence that washing animals is necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, and most importantly APHA states that you should not undertake measures that compromise the welfare of the animals in our care unless there is robust evidence to do so.
Should I be worried about wildlife visiting my garden?
We do not recommend that people become worried about wildlife visiting their gardens or bird feeders, but to continue their normal activities in a hygienic way. Following Government advice to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water before and after contact with pets or working animals is advisable. The use of hand sanitisers if that’s all you have access to.
As with any bird feeders or bird tables they should be kept in a hygienic condition, washing regularly with veterinary disinfectant and ensuring that waste seed or food is not left to rot is important. Please ensure you wear gloves when cleaning with disinfectant, and still wash your hands and arms with soap and hot water after doing so. It is also advisable to wash your hands before you handle food for wildlife and to wash them again after having done so.
At the moment people with wildlife visiting their garden should not be concerned and should continue as normal, but ensure they are hygienic in their activities.
Should I take any extra precautions when handling wildlife casualties?
If you find a wildlife casualty, you should not be alarmed about touching it, but please be sensible and wear gloves or pick up the casualty if you need to using a towel, old T-shirt or paper roll. Again, wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds after handing any wildlife.
Give your local wildlife rescue a ring and they will advise you how to proceed. Rescue organisations up and down the country are continuing to operate the best they can but often with skeleton crews so please be patient with them when seeking help. If the casualty is badly injured consider contacting your local veterinary surgeon for help. Good vets do not charge members of the public for handing in wildlife casualties.
Should I be worried about Corvids visiting my garden?
No. WRAS has had a couple of calls from
people concerned about corvids - crow family, like Jackdaws, Crows, Rooks, Jay and Magpies, believing that Coronavirus is something to do with Corvids. The virus is not called Corvid-19 but Covid-19. Rest assured that there is absolutely no connection at all between the two. So if you come across a corvid, there is virtually no chance of you catching coronavirus from helping it.
Are Bats a threat and do they spread Covid-19?
No. Bats do not spread COVID-19. COVID-19 is being transmitted from humans to other humans.
There is no evidence that bats directly infected humans with COVID-19 in the first place. Scientific investigations are pointing to a chain of events that may have involved bats in Asia but most likely only through an intermediate animal. Culling of bats and their vilification during the pandemic is wrong. Bats provide enormous benefits including pollination, seed dispersal and pest control, worth billions of dollars annually.
A similar misdirected focus occurred at the height of the 2006 avian influenza, with calls for widespread culling of migratory water birds and the draining of their wetland habitats.
These bat facts are based on those prepared by the Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals as listed on EUROBATS website.