National

Officials cull healthy chickens at insistence of shrine in Mie

Kyodo

Health officials from the Mie Prefectural Government said Saturday they have destroyed 83 pet chickens kept by a local Shinto shrine due to public concerns over bird flu, even though the birds were healthy.

The Mie Prefecture Central Livestock Hygiene Service Center destroyed the chickens at the request of the shrine, the health officials said.

The shrine did not want the birds to scare away visitors amid growing public fears over avian influenza, they said.

However, one prefectural farm official said, “It was problematic for the center to kill healthy chickens.”

According to the prefectural government, the shrine in Tsu, which was not identified, asked the hygiene center to kill the chickens following the recent outbreak of bird flu in Yamaguchi and Oita prefectures.

The center initially declined the request because an examination found the chickens to be healthy, and told shrine officials not to worry. But on Friday the center consented after the shrine demanded that the birds be destroyed. Officials used carbon dioxide to kill the birds and incinerated the remains.

Hiroshi Kobayashi, a veterinarian with Nagoya Higashiyama Zoo in Aichi Prefecture, also expressed doubts about the measure, saying, “The action by the Mie Prefectural Government was excessive.”

Eggs put in storage

OITA (Kyodo) Eggs affected by a shipment ban after pet bantams kept at a lumber mill in the town of Kokonoe, Oita Prefecture, were found to have contracted bird flu began to be moved to temporary storage facilities on Saturday.

The eggs were from farms within a 30-km radius of the afflicted household. The prefectural government set up storage facilities at several locations after the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry decided Friday to allow eggs to be moved within the quarantine area so long as they were being shipped to temporary storage sites.

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