Tag Archives: United States Department of Agriculture

County contracts to kill geese, bird lovers cry fowl

Geese

The distinctive Canada geese that populated the GastonCountyPark in Dallas were a joy to many who watched them through the years.

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But the birds’ excessive waste also prompted complaints from numerous visitors. So county officials, who agreed the flock had grown too large, paid to have 144 of the birds rounded up and euthanized Tuesday.

That decision to eliminate the entire flock ruffled the feathers of Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, an Indian Trail nonprofit that says the county acted too hastily, when it could have simply had the fowl relocated.

GastonCountyParks and Recreation Director Cathy Hart said the county was simply reacting to a longstanding problem the best way it knew how.

“It’s pretty common for (overpopulation) to happen around ponds at schools, parks and airports,” she said. “This is a (euthanization) service that is used a lot, unfortunately.”

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue Director Jennifer Gordon said the county never made its intentions clear. Her organization had been trying to work with GastonCounty to manage the problem, and had already relocated some of the birds. Had they known the entire Canada goose flock was going to be destroyed, they would have relocated them all, she said.

“The bigger issue here is that all animals deserve to be treated humanely,” said Gordon. “They had options to do that and they didn’t use them.”

Birds seen as a nuisance

Non-migratory Canada geese populations have been on the rise in recent years. They stand out with their brownish gray bodies, black heads and necks and white face patches.

Yet while the birds are attractive, their droppings are less appealing to the nose and shoes. A single goose can produce a half-pound of feces per day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division.

The waste often coated the grassy areas around the park’s ponds, athletic fields, picnic areas, concert stage, restrooms and parking lots. Before summer events such as Pops in the Park, the county had to repeatedly spend time and money power-washing areas and cleaning up feces, Hart said.

“It was really time-consuming,” she said. “We had citizens complaining they couldn’t even use the trails out there because of all the geese droppings.”

Canada geese are federally protected. But their increasing reputation as a nuisance has prompted the USDA to offer an option for removing them. Park staff must first try other approved methods to disperse geese and prevent them from reproducing, said USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman.

GastonCounty paid the Wildlife Services division $1,666 to send a team to the park Tuesday morning. The geese are moulting — shedding old feathers and growing new ones — and unable to fly away. So specialists herded the birds into a temporary corral, placed them in poultry crates and transported them elsewhere to be euthanized via gas.

“They are euthanized following guidelines approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association … and disposed of as required by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permit,” Bannerman said.

No warning?

Hart said she made it clear to Gordon in early May that Carolina Waterfowl Rescue could remove any of the birds it wished to, and relocate them to a sanctuary.

“On May 23, they came out and removed a number of the birds,” she said. “We’ve allowed them to do that any time they wanted.”

About 10 domestic ducks and geese are still at the park, Hart said.

Gordon said it’s not normal for her nonprofit to rescue an entire flock of Canada geese.

“Realistically, we wouldn’t come in and take every bird from a park,” she said. “We left what was a very reasonable amount of geese out there.”

Rebecca Duffeck, a Carolina Waterfowl Rescue volunteer who lives near the park, has looked after the geese and ducks for years. She said there were no more than 40 to 50 Canada geese living there.

Gordon and Duffeck say Hart never divulged that a contract was being signed to wipe out the entire flock.

“We were talking to them, offering to help them with the geese and at no point did they tell us what they were really planning,” Gordon said.

The nonprofit could have transported the birds to a 300-acre preserve it owns in South Carolina, she said.

Hart said the county recently put up signs at the park directing visitors to not feed the geese. In recent years, park officials also tried measures such as enclosing picnic shelters near the ponds with temporary fencing, spraying the ground with goose repellant, allowing the grass to grow taller around the lake, and even removing fertilized eggs.

Gordon disputes that adequate steps were taken to manage the goose population. She believes the county violated the USDA’s requirement.

“There was no planning or thought put into this,” said Gordon. “If they don’t have a management plan, the geese will just return. And they can’t just keep killing geese over and over.”

Source: http://www.gastongazette.com/spotlight/county-contracts-to-kill-geese-bird-lovers-cry-fowl-video-1.164074#

Essential kit for the chicken keeper

Boy feeding chickens

Having the right kit on hand means you won’t be caught out when one of your birds is off colour.

If you are new to keeping chickens, picking up any poultry magazine or visiting stockists of poultry equipment and feeds can prove a little daunting given the amount of kit on sale. You will want to do right by your birds and ensure the husbandry of the flock is spot on, but are what essentials should you invest in?

Every poultry keeper should have at hand a field kit: the sort of stuff you will need one or more items from at least once a week. I find it useful to put them all in a bag or box so they are to hand. (It’s also ideal if you are away from home and have someone else caring for the birds.)

Torch – it’s often easier to handle and treat chickens after they have gone to roost; they tend to be much calmer then and can be easily handled. It does mean you will be working in the dark, so you’ll need a torch. Investing in a good-quality head torch, particularly one that has adjustable beam strength, will mean you have both hands free to deal with the chickens.

Scissors – a strong, sharp pair of scissors for cutting string, bandages, plasters and most of all, flight feathers, if there is a flighty one who keeps jumping out the pen.

Toenail clippers and nail file – most chickens will keep their toenails worn down by scratching around, but birds kept indoors or on soft ground may require a bit of a pedicure. Plus you may need to attend to the spurs of some cockerels.

Leg rings – having a range of leg rings in different colours and sizes means you can quickly and easily mark an individual bird. This can be particularly useful if administering treatments to the flock and will help identify those who have been treated from those yet to be dealt with.

Pliers or wire cutters – these are not only useful for emergency fence repairs but are also ideal for quickly removing plastic leg rings.

Feeding syringes – a collection of different-sized feeding syringes are essential for administering fluids such as medicines down the chickens’ throat.

Latex disposable gloves – these are not a frequent requirement. but when it comes to vent-related problems such as a prolapse or vent gleetthey can make the task much easier for the keeper (and probably more comfortable for the chicken too).

Vet’s antiseptic spray – ideal for treating minor wounds to birds but can also double up as anti-feathering pecking spray in minor cases of plumage pulling.

Petroleum jelly – not only does this serve well as a lubricant for sticky catches and locks it can also be applied to the combs of birds during extremely cold weather to reduce the risk of frost bite and applied to dry patches of skin on the face or legs. It’s also handy when treating for scaly leg mite on the chickens should they become infested.

Cotton buds – for delicate tasks such as cleaning around the eye or nasal passages of the birds.

Purple spray – works in much the same way as the vet’s antiseptic spray, however it has the advantage of being visible. This means it can also be used to quickly and temporarily mark birds, either post-treatment or for further selection. Don’t use on chickens you intend to exhibit, though, as it can be difficult to remove fully.

Pet carrier or dog crate – you can never have too many pet carriers for transporting or quarantining chickens. Plastic dog or cat carriers are ideal for single or small numbers of chickens, but be sure to disinfect after each use to avoid any possible transferral of pests or diseases.

Vet’s telephone number – it may not be necessarily needed by you, but if you have friends or neighbours looking after your stock when you are away it could prove invaluable.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2013/jun/12/essential-kit-chicken-keeper

A dozen geese slaughtered in Inwood Hill Park

Exported.;

Canada geese like these were slaughtered in Inwood Hill Park early this morning.

Bird lovers in Inwood Hill Park were horrified Wednesday morning to learn that about a dozen Canada geese and goslings were rounded up and killed in the name of aviation safety.

The massacre was first reported by GooseWatch NYC, a watchbird group that was created after a much larger slaughter in Prospect Park in 2010.

“I’m in tears,” said Inwood resident Suzanne Soehner, a GooseWatch volunteer.

Soehner also complained that no advance notification was provided for the cover-of-darkness killing.

“This morning marks another dark day for wildlife in city parks,” said David Karopkin, founder and director of GooseWatch NYC. “New York City has contracted with USDA Wildlife Services, an agency known for its cruelty to animals and secrecy.”

City officials have defended the periodic killing of geese — called “culling” — as necessary to protect air traffic at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports. The city contracts out the actual killing to USDA wildlife officials.

Public enemy number one? This goose (right, with duck), photographed this week in Inwood Hill Park, is now dead, thanks to a federal massacre of Canada geese in the name of aviation safety.

Public enemy number one? This goose (right, with duck), photographed this week in Inwood Hill Park, is now dead, thanks to a federal massacre of Canada geese in the name of aviation safety.

United States Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Carol Bannerman declined to provide an exact number of victims of Wednesday’s killing, but reiterated that Inwood Hill Park is within the seven-mile bird-free zone that officials believe is necessary to protect planes.

“Canada geese are among the top five hazardous species or groups of birds to aviation,” Bannerman said. “Goose-aircraft strikes aren’t common (but) more than half are with multiple geese and three-quarters have an effect on the flight or cause damage.”

That said, there were 1,400 confirmed goose strikes between 1990 and 2012, or roughly 116 a year. But there are an estimated 87,000 flights per day, meaning bird strikes occur in one out of every 270,000 flights.

Lightning strikes airliners more often.

Still, goose strikes have been charged with bringing down aircraft. The Prospect Park goose slaughter, for example came after the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” safe landing of a US Airways plane by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in January, 2009 — a landing allegedly necessitated by a bird strike.

Geneviève Mathis, local member of Goose Watch NYC, said she cried when she saw the killing field.

Geneviève Mathis, local member of Goose Watch NYC, said she cried when she saw the killing field.

The bird-free zone was expanded to seven miles around each airport after that near fatal crash.

Opponents say that culling does not solve the problem because other geese return to fill the bird-less vacuum.

“When you cull geese, they get replaced,” said Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia Airport and a former lead safety representative for the FAA.

“Aviation safety is being used as an excuse to kill the birds.”

The slaughter in Inwood Hill Park marks the start of the USDA killing season. Typically, agents capture and kill geese during the summer molt when they can’t fly.

“The geese are herded into a temporary enclosure, carried by hand to poultry crates and transported to a commercial processing facility,” said Bannerman. “The meat will be donated to food charities.”

In 2012, Bannerman said, the 290 geese collected at city properties yielded 258 pounds of meat to charities upstate, near the goose processing plants.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/feds-kill-geese-inwood-hill-park-article-1.1376833#ixzz2WlF5D1Sx

Goose Patrol Protects NYC’S Birds From Government Slaughter

Goose Patrol Protects NYC’s Birds From Government Slaughter

Summertime is almost here, which, for New York City’s goose population, means it’s molting season. Ordinarily, it’s a time for the birds to shed their wing and tail feathers and grow new ones in preparation for migration. But since 2009, when a gaggle of migratory geese led to the “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency plane landing, it’s been the season when U.S. Department of Agriculture Agents scour New York’s Parks for the temporarily flightless geese, round them up, and slaughter them.

The geese that caused the 2009 crash weren’t local to New York, and several biologists and aviation experts–like Ron Merritt, former Chief of the Air Force’s Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard Team–believe goose slaughter is ineffectual in preventing aircraft strikes, yet the practice continues. Last year, at least 750 geese were killed. One group, however, hopes to defend the birds’ lives. Calling themselvesGooseWatch NYC, the volunteers will patrol parks where goose roundups have occurred and watch over the animals.

“Last summer we watched almost 200 geese every day throughout the molt,” GooseWatch founder David Karopkin told ANIMAL. “At the very least, we know they were not rounded up by the USDA during the time we were there.”

GooseWatch began in May of last year, and thus far, neither Karopkin nor any of his volunteers have encountered a roundup in progress while on patrol. Karopkin notifies the USDA when and where patrols will happen, with the hope that it may stop agents from coming out. Officially, volunteers are not instructed to actually intervene–cell phone photos and recordings are encouraged–but off the books, it’s a different story.

“We are prepared for an encounter with USDA agents,” says Kropkin. “Some activists have told me they would be willing to get arrested. I couldn’t in good conscience suggest to anyone to do this, but I also wouldn’t try to stop anyone.”

“At the very least, the public has the right to some transparency,” he adds, “and the right to see what it looks like when taxpayer dollars go to pay federal agents to round up and slaughter geese in public parks in New York City.”

Source: http://www.animalnewyork.com/2013/goose-patrol-protects-nycs-birds-from-government-slaughter/

Stop ‘The Rotten Egg’ Bill

United States Egg Industry Bill Would Keep Hens in Cages Forever

“Opposing ballot measures is very expensive. The only way we can avoid them is through federal preemption. That is the reason why we need federal legislation.” — Gene Gregory, President,
United Egg Producers

The egg industry’s trade association – the United Egg Producers (UEP) – has hatched an insidious plan:   It is now pushing for federal legislation that, if enacted, would forever keep hens locked in cages, despite the wishes of the vast majority of the American public.

Under the guise of “enriching” cages, the egg industry’s legislation would:

  • Nullify existing state laws that ban or restrict battery cages.
  • Deprive voters of the right and ability to pass ballot measures banning cages.
  • Deny state legislatures the ability to enact laws to outlaw battery cages or otherwise regulate egg factory conditions.

To accomplish this, UEP’s federal legislation would amend what is known as the “Egg Products Inspection Act.”  Specifically, the amendment seeks to federally establish that egg factory cageswould be legally accepted as national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote.

The Humane Farming Association and other responsible activists have united to defeat this scheme.

UEP claims that its legislation would eventually result in “progress” for laying hens.  Just the opposite is true.  In reality, the egg industry merely agreed to slowly (at the glacial pace of 18 years) continue the meager changes in battery cage conditions that are already occurring due to state laws and public pressure. 

Fortunately, there is still time for all of us to stop this agribusiness scheme.  You can do two easy things right now to help the Humane Farming Association defeat this bill with just a few clicks: sign our Humane Farming Association petition and email your representative right from this website.

Please help make clear to our elected leaders that the egg industry’s unprecedented attack on anti-cruelty laws, states’ rights, and animal protection must not stand. Thank you for helping the Humane Farming Association and others to Stop the Rotten Egg Bill!

Click here to read a veterinary perspective on the Rotten Egg Bill.

Responding to The Rotten Egg Bill’s Specific Points

For political cover, UEP inserted a few diversionary provisions. None of them holds up to scrutiny.

Ammonia Levels: The Rotten Egg Bill contains nothing that alters current standards for “ammonia levels.” The bill merely duplicates UEP’s existing standards (which allow unhealthful levels of ammonia) and seeks to put that into federal law.

Forced Molting and Euthanasia: As for ending the practice of forced molting of hens by “starvation” and water deprivation – egg companies do not advocate that to begin with. Far from changing any currently accepted molting practice, the bill merely adopts UEP’s own existing standards. The same goes for “euthanasia” standards and other empty provisions tossed in to distract from the central issue: keeping hens in cages.

UEP’s Game of Inches: Prior to the Rotten Egg Bill, the egg industry passed state legislation calling for 116 square inches of cage space per hen. With a mere 8 square inch adjustment, UEP’s federal bill calls for a still cruel and depriving 124 square inches per hen – “phased-in” over 18 years. This token modification does not “double” the cage space from what UEP has already advocated as a standard. The bill’s own proponents have stated that a hen needs at least 216 square inches just to spread her wings.

Decriminalizing Animal Abuse: The bill contains no criminal penalties whatsoever. While overriding state laws which docontain appropriate criminal penalties, the Rotten Egg Bill would shift all authority to the industry-controlled USDA.

Fraudulent Labeling: As far as labeling egg cartons, UEP’s Rotten Egg Bill certainly would do that. For the very first time, the fraudulent term “enriched” cages would begin appearing on egg cartons nationwide – in order to deflect public concern – and to increase egg sales from caged hens.

The position of the Humane Farming Association and other responsible activists and organizations remains clear:

  • Cruelty is cruelty.
  • There is no such thing as an “enriched” battery cage.
  • No humane organization should ever endorse these abusive confinement systems.
  • Our state laws and voting rights must not be given away.

I ask all my American readers to please consider this proposal and sign the petition to STOP this rotten egg bill!

Hoops and Wings

i_can_haz_fried_chicken

At America’s sports bars, chicken wings are as essential to basketball as man-to-man defense and the three-point shot.

But as this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament rolls ahead, the cruel economics of the chicken wing are squeezing restaurant chains and putting upward pressure on prices for customers.

With breeding advances, the size of America’s chickens — and their wings — is relentlessly rising. As CEO Sally Smith of Buffalo Wild Wings recently explained to stock analysts: “Five wings yield more ounces of chicken than six used to.”

Sounds like good news for wing joints, right? No clucking way. Chains like Chains like Buffalo Wild Wings sell by the unit — a six-piece plate with fries and a beer anyone? — but buy by the pound. Take one wing away, even if the rest are meatier, and customers might not be happy.

The average chicken carcass nowadays is almost 50 percent bigger than it was 30 years ago. But, as agribusiness consultant Len Steiner put it, an 8-pound bruiser of a bird “still has only two wings.”Buffalo Wild Wings sell by the unit — a six-piece plate with fries and a beer anyone? — but buy by the pound. Take one wing away, even if the rest are meatier, and customers might not be happy.

Wholesale wing prices soared 76 percent on average in 2012 over 2011, hitting highs not seen in at least 20 years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Other factors are also pressuring prices, particularly last year’s drought. It drove up the price of corn, the main component of chicken feed, which is the biggest cost in raising a bird. Chicken farmers cut back on their flocks, tightening wing supply.

And demand is growing, driven in part by the success of fast-growing Wild Wings, which is based in Golden Valley. Even fast-food behemoth McDonald’s is testing wings.

Chicken wings have gotten into so many restaurant concepts that it’s put a real strain on [supply],” said Steiner, who cowrites the Daily Livestock Report for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Improved breeding

The advance of chicken technology is on display at the barn near Rice, Minn., where David Schumann raises birds for the Upper Midwest’s largest producer, GNP Co.

Schumann is one of about 400 farmers, mostly in Minnesota, who raise chickens for St. Cloud-based GNP. Like most GNP farmers, he has only one barn and also raises something else — in his case, cattle.

He and his wife, Tracy Scapanski-Schumann, run the chicken barn with a computer’s aid. Water rations, feed flow and air temperature — chicks like it hot, older birds not so much — are all automated.

Currently, their 37,440-square-foot barn houses 53,000 birds who turn 12 days old on Sunday. By about April 26, they’ll be ready for shipment to one of GNP’s two processing plants, and a new flock will arrive soon after. Nowadays, it takes about 42 days to grow a 5-pound bird, com

pared with about 60 days three decades ago, said Bill Lanners, GNP’s director of live strategies.

Credit the chicken breeding companies. “They use some pretty amazing technology,” Lanners said. The breeders are not relying on genetic manipulation. It’s a matter of using science to select chickens with the best genetic stock.

The pace of genetic improvement generally cuts a bird’s time to market by one day per year. Plus, chickens increasingly require less feed to produce the same amount of meat. And they can grow bigger, particularly if they’re fed for longer periods of time.

In the past decade, the average weight of a chicken carcass has grown 16 percent, according to data from Steiner and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That comes after a 15 percent gain from 1993 to 2003 and an 11 percent increase during the prior decade.

The gains are driven by superbirds. “Big bird deboners are pushi

ng up bird size dramatically,” said GNP’s sales and service director Brian Roelofs, referring to 8 pounders that are deboned and sold in pieces.

Small, medium, large birds

The chicken market is carved into three portions: small bird (roughly 4 pounds), medium (roughly 6 pounds) and large (roughly 8 pounds).

Chicken chains like KFC and Popeyes rely on small birds. The medium bird is big in supermarket coolers, where GNP’s Gold’n Plump brand is found throughout the Twin Cities.

Along with trays of fresh chicken breasts, GNP sells wings by the pack. Some basic chicken math helps spell out the wing dilemma. A tray pack of four breasts requires two chickens, but a pack of 18 wings requires nine chickens.

So the smaller bird markets — GNP’s bread-and-butter — just d

on’t generate enough chicken wings at low enough prices for big purchasers like Buffalo Wild Wings, Roelofs said.

That’s where the superbird business — centered in the South — comes in, knocking out a huge supply of chicken pieces, including wings. The larger birds make economic sense, despite the wing market quirk.

They cost less per pound to produce and yield more precious breast meat, a consumer favorite, which can be fashioned into all sorts of things: chicken tenders or nuggets, “boneless” chicken wings and chicken breast sandwiches at restaurants.

The bigger the bird, the better for breast meat production. And with plenty of big birds, that means plenty of wings that are then scarfed up by wing buyers like Buffalo Wild Wings — and, for that matter, Joe Blow’s wing joint down the block.

Test marketing

It’s high wing season now. While the Super Bowl marks Buffalo Wild Wing’s biggest sales day, the NCAA Basketball Tournament is its busiest period each year, and Wild Wingers are likely paying more for wings this tournament season. The company, to deal with its own rising costs, raised prices across its entire menu by about 4 percent last fall.

It also began devising ways to cope with the issue of bigger wings. The firm is testing changes in wing portions at 64 of its approximately 900 U.S. restaurants.

Wild Wings declined to make an executive available for comment for this story.

But during a conference call with stock analysts last month, Wild Wings executives talked about servings centered on ounces, instead of pieces, of meat. “We have been testing different ounces of meat in let’s say the single, double [servings],” CEO Sally Smith told analysts.

That means five wings are sometimes sold in a small order instead of six.

Asked if customers are pushing back, Smith said no. “I think a lot of it has to do with how we explain to our guests, whether we say, OK, today we are serving five wings for a small order or six wings and making sure that … [the] guest understands.”

Still, getting the equation right has been “a little more difficult than we anticipated,” Smith said. “It’s been really difficult to have a consistent … message or consistent number of wings to the guests.”

Source: http://m.startribune.com/news/?id=199712761