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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Batard Patrick/ABACA
# foie gras' sake
France to cull over 1 million poultry to fight bird flu
Farmers are being compensated for the loss of the animals.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 20th 2022, 6:12 PM

THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT today said it would cull more than one million birds in the coming weeks to fight a surging outbreak of avian flu on poultry farms.

All ducks, chickens and turkeys must be culled in some 226 municipalities in France’s southwestern Landes, Gers and Pyrenees Atlantiques departments, totalling up to 1.3 million birds.

“It will take us about three weeks to clear the whole area,” the agriculture ministry said.

By wiping out the populations where the virus is spreading, officials hope to shorten the outbreak and prevent it from reaching other poultry-raising regions.

Over one million birds have already been killed in attempts to smother the avian flu outbreak that began in late November.

Farmers in the region, famous for its lucrative but controversial foie gras liver pate, are compensated for the culled animals.

The ministry plans to requisition abattoirs and pull in large numbers of workers, including vet school students, to speed up the process.

Several European countries are now battling a highly contagious flu strain, H5N1, just a year after a similar virus decimated flocks.

Four bird flu outbreaks have hit France and especially the southwest since 2015, with 3.5 million poultry killed last winter.

Measures like quarantines at times of potential contact with migrating wild birds, and reduced densities at duck farms, “were necessary, but haven’t been enough,” said Herve Dupouy, a duck farmer and a farmers’ union leader in Landes.

“We’re desperate, farmers’ morale is poor. How can we look to the future beyond the situation we’re experiencing, with dead animals on our farms?” he said.

Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, all Avian Influenza Surveillance Zones in Northern Ireland will be lifted this weekend.

But Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has warned that the threat of an outbreak remains high due to the continued presence of infected migratory birds.

He announced that the remaining two surveillance zones were to be lifted on Saturday, following the successful completion of all disease control activities and surveillance in and around the infected premises.

“These surveillance zones are the last local movement restrictions to be lifted and while this is very welcome news, the risk of avian influenza has not disappeared and we are certainly not out of the woods yet,” Poots said.

 © – AFP, 2022 with reporting from Press Association 

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