Coronavirus and Wildlife.
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.
Therefore 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.
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 soup 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.