Ban on Free-Range Poultry in Slovenia Relaxed

SLOVENIA - Slovenia's veterinary authority has decided to relax the ban on free-range poultry which it imposed in October 2005 after it was confirmed that the bird flu virus discovered in neighbouring Croatia was the lethal H5N1 strain.

In line with the decision of the Veterinary Administration (VURS), Slovenia's poultry farmers are no longer obliged to keep their animals indoors, VURS director Vida Cadonic Spelic told the press on Thursday, 5 January.

"As there have been no new cases of bird flu in Europe or near Slovenia, we have established that the situation is favourable enough for the ban to be relaxed," Cadonic Spelic explained.

Nevertheless, in 14 municipalities in the northeastern area of Ptuj, Dravsko Polje and Ormoz, free-range poultry will still have to be kept in confined spaces, she continued. Moreover, water from sources where contact with wild birds is possible must be boiled, Cadonic Spelic also said.

According to her, these measures are only temporary. VURS intends to monitor the situation in Slovenia, Europe and the rest of the world until 31 May. Only then will they decide whether to extend or completely remove the ban.

Cadonic Spelic also said that Slovenia's neighbouring countries already relaxed the ban on 15 December in line with the decision of the European Commission.

Ornithologist Tomi Trilar of the Natural History Museum said that although wild birds will be migrating toward north and northeast in the spring, he does not expect wild birds from high-risk areas coming to Slovenia.

calendar icon 9 January 2006
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