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Pigeons in the Park. The Effluvia of Culling - 12/06/2006
 
“This is unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of humans against avian influenza”, stated Juan Lebroth, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) senior officer for infectious animal diseases, responding to the news that authorities in Vietnam were not only culling domestic poultry in Ho Chi Minh City, but attempting to cull the wild bird population as well, pigeons especially.
“This is unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of humans against avian influenza”, stated Juan Lebroth, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) senior officer for infectious animal diseases, responding to the news that authorities in Vietnam were not only culling domestic poultry in Ho Chi Minh City, but attempting to cull the wild bird population as well, pigeons especially.

Juan Lebroth added: “There are other much more important measures to be considered that deserve priority attention. Fighting the diseases in poultry must remain the main focus of attention”. These measures include “improving veterinary services, emergency preparedness plans, and control campaigns such as culling of infected animals, vaccination and compensation for farmers”.

Here in the UK we can think of parallels and precedents in dealing with the threats of feral animals and migrants colonizing and contaminating built and rural environments (including Trafalgar Square), farms and animal collections (e.g. in the foot-and-mouth epidemic and swine fever, badgers and cattle, and the spread of zoonotic bacterial diseases exchanged by wild pigs, game, and birds and their “free range” counterparts born and bred for killing for the pot by Predator Number One). (PN1 – that’s the human population except for those declaring themselves unequivocally vegetarian, or vegan, who rate as PN2).

The editor of Animal Pharm (02 December 2005) has nicely cited the satirist Tom Lehrer for her last word on this topic.

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we’re poisoning pigeons in the park
Every Sunday you’ll see
My sweetheart and me
As we poison the pigeons in the park

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an’ hide
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide
The sun’s shining bright
Everything seems all right
When we’re poisoning pigeons in the park
We’ve gained notoriety
And caused much anxiety in the Audubon Society
With our games
They call it impiety
And lack of propriety
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names
But it’s not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon


There really is a publication seriously entitled Animal Pharm, presenting “world animal health and nutrition news”. It carries much information on the farmerceutical industry. A page in the issue from which we quote carries an ad for IWAC Ltd (International Animal Welfare Consultants Ltd) who offer “internationally recognized advice on complex issues”. They are based in New Zealand. On the same page a report is headlined with the US poultry industry’s rebuff to a “slaughter suit” filed by the Human Society of the USA, challenging the US Dept of Agriculture’s (USDA) “policy of excluding poultry form the 1958 Human Methods of Slaughter Act”. The move is deemed significant “because workers who abuse poultry cannot currently be prosecuted”. These issues sound familiar in British and Euro debates.
 
 
 

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