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DE-LIVER THEM FROM EVIL: France planning mass slaughter of ducks, as bird flu hits ‘foie gras’ farming industry

More than 200,000 ducks have been slaughtered and a further 400,000 are underway. More than 25 million ducks were slaughtered in 2016, followed by 4.5 million in 2017.

AFP: French producers of foie gras have called for a mass preventive cull of ducks to try to halt the spread of a severe strain of bird flu that is ripping through poultry farms in the south-west of the country. The highly pathogenic H5N8 virus was first detected in a bird in a pet shop on the Mediterranean island of Corsica in November before spreading to duck farms on the mainland in December. Several European countries have reported cases of infection, five years after a major outbreak prompted the slaughter of millions of ducks in France… The number of outbreaks in France had now risen to 124, the ministry of agriculture said on Thursday, adding that about 350,000 ducks had been slaughtered since 24 December.

Earlier this week the government’s chief veterinary officer, Loic Evain, said more than 200,000 ducks had already been slaughtered and that a further 400,000 birds were set to be culled, out of about 35 million reared each year. He described the virus, which is not harmful to humans, as “very, very contagious”… The bird flu clusters have been detected on poultry farms and in pet shops in the Landes department and the neighbouring Gers and Pyrenees-Atlantique departments…

Officials in Belgium said on Thursday they had culled three contaminated poultry flocks – one in Menin, in the west of the country, another in Dinant in the south and a third in Dixmude in western Flanders… So far the authorities have been culling all ducks and geese within a three-kilometre radius of an infected flock. Free-range chickens and turkeys within that range have also been slaughtered. CIFOQ said on Thursday that government officials had shared plans to expand the culls over a wider area.

Producers of foie gras, a pate made from the livers of force-fed ducks or geese, fear a repeat of the devastation wrought by two previous waves of bird flu in the winters of 2015/2016 and 2016/2017. More than 25m ducks were culled in the first outbreak, followed by 4.5m the following year, causing a steep decline in foie gras production. Besides France and Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Britain and Ireland have also reported bird flu outbreaks since the winter began. Dutch authorities culled 190,000 chickens in November after the discovery of the virus at two farms. SOURCE…

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