Pet owners in North Carolina are irate over new state legislation that requires all chicken owners, no matter how small the flock, to register due to fears of avian flu. On July 22, North Carolina State Veterinarian Doug Meckes announced that all poultry owners in North Carolina, from large operations to backyard enthusiasts, must register for an NCFarmID, reports JDNews.com, leaving owners calling foul.
While operations involved in the National Poultry Improvement Plan are exempt, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is requiring anyone else with chickens to register once the plan goes online after August 1. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the spread of avian flu is worrisome, making it necessary to contact owners in case there’s another outbreak of avian flu.
“In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist,” Meckes said in a statement. “We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks.”
More than 48 million birds have died of avian flu since December, when the outbreaks first ran rampant.
However, pet owners see the new avian flu regulations simply as the state of North Carolina overstepping its authority.
“These chickens are enclosed they have no access to water fowl, they have no access to anything that would infect them,” one woman, who keeps five chickens in her Kernersville, North Carolina backyard, revealed to Fox 8.
Small flock enthusiasts see no need for state-wide registration in order to find out information about an avian flu outbreak, when “I can just as easily get that information by going to their website.”
The state is firing back, however, claiming the registration isn’t a license to keep birds and won’t subject flocks to surprise inspections – it’s simply to alert them about an avian flu outbreak.
With the southern migration of ducks and geese imminent this fall, North Carolina veterinarians are concerned about an avian flu outbreak, since wild birds are naturally carriers of the disease. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also detected avian flu in migratory falcons and owls. The most recent outbreak of avian flu was detected on June 17.
Statewide, poultry shows have been shut down between August and January, the time when officials expect backyard chickens to be the most at risk. According to JDNews.com, despite the rage expressed by owners, Lenoir County Cooperative Extension Agent Eve Honeycutt thinks the registrations are necessary.
“[Avian flu] is spread through migratory waterfowl and other migratory birds, and in Eastern North Carolina we have fall migration of a lot of migratory birds, and that’s one of the reasons they anticipate the disease will come,” Honeycutt said.
[Image credit: David Silverman/Getty Images]