CANADA - Vancouver city authorities are to look into improving communications with backyard hen owners in case of future bird flu outbreaks following a call for action from a commercial poultry producer.
The lack of communication from Surrey City Hall to the two dozen backyard hen permit holders in the municipality has a commercial farmer calling on the city to create a proper warning system in the event of another avian flu outbreak.
Vancouver 24hrs reports that Mike Bose, a Sullivan-area commercial turkey farmer, said he became concerned during the December outbreak – there was a backyard farmer near his property and when he started asking around, found out the city had not issued any alerts to backyard hen owners about safety steps required during the outbreak.
Mr Bose explained: “We need to be able to communicate the restrictions on the movement of birds and animal products like eggs, chicks, manure – there were a lot of restrictions in place.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued heavy restrictions on anyone in contact with birds in an area about half the size of the province but Mr Bose said the information was only posted online, and was cumbersome to use.
He said: “The avian flu never spread this far this year, it didn’t in 2004 either, but there was always a chance that it could.”
The city’s pilot project for backyard hens, which began in September 2013, is a zoning change that allows anyone with residential lots 7,200 square feet or larger to apply for a permit to own up to four hens.
So far, according to the city’s planning office, 25 people have registered. The city’s planning department, which oversees the hen programme, has confirmed that it did not issue any alerts or communications to other city departments or permit holders during the outbreak.
The office said the only time it informs permit applicants of regulations is during the application process itself.
The city said it is looking to work with Mr Bose to create communication requirements during outbreaks in the future, adds the report from Vancouver 24hrs.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.