MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) The Miyazaki Prefectural Government said Saturday it has finished slaughtering and burying six stud bulls to combat foot-and-mouth disease, a day after a row over the fate of the animals was settled.

The culling of the bulls brought to an end the slaughter of over 289,000 local livestock animals to contain a foot-and-mouth epidemic, unless new cases of infection are found.

The disposal also paves the way for the prefecture to lift the ban on moving animals around the farm that was home to the bulls in the town of Takanabe. This leaves restrictions only on an area around the city of Miyazaki, at least until July 26, after most of the hardest-hit areas were cleared of restrictions midnight Thursday.

The bulls’ owner, Nagahisa Komoda, 72, relented in his opposition and agreed Friday to kill them as a precautionary measure, after his plea for saving the studs was rejected by the central government.

None of the bulls had tested positive for the highly contagious disease that devastated the local livestock industry. Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru had originally advised Komoda to cull them in late June, but changed his stance after the owner asked for an exemption, as five prefecture-owned studs were also spared in May.

“I really feel sad,” Komoda, who tried to protect the bulls by sterilizing them night and day for the past three months, told reporters Saturday morning.

At 10:30 a.m., a truck carrying the first bull left his farm in Takanabe, as Komoda, his wife, Katsuko, and others at the farm saw it off. His wife put her hand over the truck and collapsed in tears.

The six bulls were put on trucks and sent some 5 km away from the farm to be buried.

Though he accepted the government’s decision, Komoda is not fully convinced by the government’s decision to cull the bulls based on the special law.

“I would like to say someday that my bulls didn’t die for nothing,” he said.

All restrictions on moving livestock will be ended at midnight July 26 unless a new case emerges, with the ban to be removed from the area around the prefectural capital, where the latest suspected case was confirmed July 4.

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