Poultry farmers warned to move millions of birds

CANADA - The best way to protect B.C.'s $400-million poultry industry from being devastated by another bird-flu outbreak is for farmers to move millions of their birds out of the high-density Fraser Valley, an official with the Agriculture Ministry advised his superiors in an e-mail last year.

"The B.C. poultry industry needs to investigate a risk-management strategy to move [some birds] to locations outside the Fraser Valley," Stewart Paulson, a poultry industry specialist with the B.C. government, wrote in an e-mail on May 27, 2005. "Such location strategies may prove effective to reduce the cost of an outbreak and [improve] the speed of recovery."

Paulson's e-mail -- obtained by The Vancouver Sun through the Freedom of Information Act -- was sent to several senior officials in the ministry, including Chief Veterinarian Ron Lewis and Harvey Sasaki, assistant deputy minister for risk management.

In 2004, a massive outbreak of bird flu in the Fraser Valley led to the culling of 17 million birds -- at a cost of $60 million in federal government compensation to farmers.

And in November, after Paulson's e-mail was written, a second outbreak of bird flu at two farms in the valley led to the culling of more than 60,000 birds.

Source: Canada.com
calendar icon 19 June 2006
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