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ORGANISERS have been forced to cancel this year's Peebles Poultry Show.

The event, which was due to be held on February 26, is of one of the largest shows of its kind in the country with around 1500 expected entries.

But fears over avian flu have led to organisers to issue a cancellation notice.

Hazel Dickson from Peebles and District Poultry and Bantam Club said: "We apologise sincerely for the disappointment and hassle that this will cause.

"We had hoped, like many, that the situation would settle quickly.

"Having studied the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs communications as well as Animal and Plant Health Agency information we feel that we have no choice but to cancel."

The Scottish government announced in December that all poultry and captive birds must be kept indoors, after an Europe-wide alert over avian influenza.

The initial restrictions were for 30 days but the discovery of wild birds with the H5N8 strain in Scotland, England and Wales has led to the outdoor ban continuing.

Last week the Scottish government confirmed the restrictions would remain in place until the end of February, at the earliest.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said: "Confirmation of the arrival of the virus throughout the UK, highlights how essential it is that bird keepers comply with the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, as well as continuing to practice and improve, where possible, their biosecurity measures

“We and our partners continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to respond to any suspicion of disease in Scotland."

Poultry owners from all across the UK head to the Borders every February for the Peebles Show.

Last year's record numbers saw 1,029 competitive birds displayed at the Burgh Hall as well 280 eggs, 213 challenge and 58 photographs entries

The Peebles Club will now turn their attentions to the regional summer show in August and next year's 30th anniversary event in February.

Hazel added: "Our efforts will now move to re-planning and hosting an even more fantastic 30th championship show in 2018 and the Regional Championship Summer Show at Peebles Agricultural Show on August 12."