Poultry slaughtered amid bird flu lock-up

2nd November 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 November 2005, BRUSSELS — A large number of hobby farmers have slaughtered their poultry because they have been unable to meet federal regulations ordering their birds to be kept inside.

2 November 2005

BRUSSELS — A large number of hobby farmers have slaughtered their poultry because they have been unable to meet federal regulations ordering their birds to be kept inside.

The news comes after a compulsory lock-up order for poultry in risk areas came into force on Monday in a bid to ward off a threatened outbreak of the bird flu virus in Belgium. 

But instead of being moved indoors, hundreds and possibly thousands of birds have been slaughtered since the weekend, animal preservation foundation Stichting Levend Erfgoed claimed.

It said the anti-bird flu measures were introduced too quickly, stressing also that the lock-up order was too widely imposed.

Many bird owners without suitable shelter resorted to putting their birds down, while others tried in vain to find shelter for their birds with the Flanders Bird Protection society.

Stichting Levend Erfgoed said vaccination is a better method to combat the spread of bird flu than current measures. It urged the Flemish and Federal governments to back the Netherlands' call to introduce a vaccination policy at a European level.

Meanwhile, authorities have been inundated with questions by the public about the lock-up, with the municipal council in Geraardsbergen reporting an overwhelming number of telephone calls.

Mayor Guido de Padt said the federal government had performed poorly in spreading information to the public, but stopped short of using the word "blundered".

He said the Federal Food Agency initially informed him on Monday that the entire Geraardsbergen municipality was located within the compulsory lock-up zone, but subsequent data revealed otherwise.

De Padt has been kept busy answering questions whether people can still eat chickens and eggs and informing the public on the practicalities of keeping chickens, pigeons and geese locked up indoors for months on end.

The federal food agency has since admitted criticism was justified about the over-reliance on internet and email to distribute information. Spokesman Geert de Poorter said the agency should instead consider making leaflets as well.
 
"On the other side, there is a lot of communication about the matter from the government's crisis centre, the governors, mayors, the media and we have also organised a lot of information nights for specialists," he said.

The agency's website was also visited by a lot of people, leading to an overburdening of the server. The problems were largely solved by Tuesday morning so the public could again view maps to determine if they live in a bird-flu risk area.
 
The list of municipalities did not suffice because within a lot of municipalities there are areas that fall under the lock-up regulation and areas that don't.

Whoever lives in a radius of a 1km of a resting and eating site for wild birds is now obligated to keep their birds indoors. The food agency said the regulation will be in force for the next six to seven months.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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