The Avian Influenza Epidemic and Chicken Run Rescue

Avian Flu threatens Simon and Theo and other residents at Chicken Run Rescue. Here they are in their “lockdown lounge” to help protect them.

Chicken Run Rescue is one of our local animal sanctuaries. Their goal is to “foster an evolution in critical thought about who is food and who is friend through rescue, rehabilitation, sanctuary and education.” Recently their work has been severely impacted by the Avian Influenza (AI) outbreak.

This disease has no cure and kills between 90-100% of the infected birds. The AI Death Toll so far in Minnesota is 2,895,350 —nationwide it is 37.87M birds. It has affected wild, farmed, sanctuary and backyard birds.  It has also spread in isolated instances to other animals, including humans.

The deaths are mostly due to government decree, not the virus itself. Mass killings are mandated as an attempt to stop the spread of the disease and to protect factory farms. The killings are often done in cruel and inhumane ways.

Many experts believe that the conditions of factory farms encourage the spread and mutation of such viruses.

Chicken Run has been carefully studying the situation and the science. Procedures have been set in place to protect the chickens. They have suspended all rescue, educational visits and volunteer activities. These will resume thirty days after the all-clear by the USDA. 

The HPAI epidemic has impacted every facet of day to day life for CRR. They report taking the following steps to protect the flock:
– Incoming birds must be quarantined off site for a minimum of 3 weeks. 
– Resident birds are in the house 100% of the time with no exceptions. Compatible groups are rotated in several different areas of the house and we have added additional enrichment features like leaf filled yurts and big screen happy lights, dustbaths and foraging opportunities. Food treats for entertainment have increased as have the costs for them. The cleaning is endless. 
– Transport to the vet must be carefully orchestrated to avoid exposure. 
– Adding additional staff is suspended due to Covid and HPAI precautions. 
– Volunteers are suspended due to Covid and HPAI precautions.  
– In person events and tours are suspended due to Covid and HPAI precautions.
– Staff or visitors must take biosecurity precautions of changing footwear and clothing when entering the house. 
– Maintenance we would normally hire a contractor for is deferred or we must do it ourselves. We replaced a floor in one of the bird rooms ourselves because having a contractor do it was too risky for Covid and HAPI and the birds cannot be out of the house while work is underway.

Other information on the Avian Influenza:

There is a lot of information available about the Avian Influenza out there. One source that seems to be up-to-date on the topic with key insights is United Poultry Concerns. Recently their president, Karen Davis shared the script of a podcast she did on the topic:

AVIAN INFLUENZA (Bird Flu) – What You Need to Know, By Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns

Today I want to talk to you about the current avian influenza epidemic that is once again making birds sick across the United States, Canada, Europe and elsewhere in the world. This is the fourth large- scale episode of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, that I have seen, starting in 2003, recurring in 2005, breaking out again in 2015, and now, once again, in 2022. 

In each of these outbreaks, millions of birds, including chickens, turkeys, ducks and other domesticated fowl, backyard birds and pet birds have been, and are being, systematically destroyed by governments across the world to protect the global poultry industry. Wild migratory waterfowl are blamed for these highly pathogenic bird flu outbreaks. They too are being rounded up and killed by government agents and associates; however these wild birds are not the primary cause of the disease in domesticated poultry flocks.

All of us, humans and other animals alike, carry bacteria and viruses in our bodies that live inside of us with no trouble. They do not make us sick. They do not make others sick. This is true, as well, of the wild ducks and geese who are now, as in previous outbreaks, being scapegoated as the reason why factory farmed chickens, turkeys and ducks are contracting and spreading avian influenza amongst themselves.

It doesn’t take much to figure out that crowding millions of creatures together in a suffocating, filthy confinement building, where they are forced to breathe each other’s breath nonstop, causes any number of contagious diseases, including, but not confined to, bird flu. In addition to the filthy contaminated buildings in which these birds are imprisoned, literally, they are genetically susceptible to a wide variety of manmade diseases because they’ve been bred for the sole purpose of meat and eggs at the expense of their health and wellbeing. Their fragile immune systems simply cannot cope with the load of disease organisms to which they are helplessly exposed. Even a robust immune system would be overwhelmed by it all.  

Taken together, all of these environmental and genetic conditions encourage the mutation of bacteria and viruses to become ever more virulent and elusive.

As if the manmade diseases these birds suffer from were not enough, the manner in which they are being systematically exterminated is horrific. The mass killings are blandly referred to by government, industry, and veterinary associations as “Depopulation.”  Depopulation means destroying the entire population within a building filled with hundreds or thousands of birds or other animals or destroying the entire complex of such buildings set side by side. All of the animals in the buildings are intentionally killed, and many following the massacre will be buried while they are still alive. 

Some of you listening to this are no doubt aware of the three main methods that are used to exterminate poultry and pigs on industrial and smaller-size farms. These methods add insult to injury by being called “Euthanasia.”

‘Euthanasia” is a Greek word meaning a Good or Merciful Death. It does not mean death by torture. But the methods being used by agribusiness and governments to depopulate millions of birds at a time are, in every way, pure, prolonged torture.

The following are links to other information on the topic:

Detected and killed in Minnesota as of 5/27/22:
183 Commercial Flocks and 172 Backyard Flocks
Backyard Producer (non-poultry)
Backyard Producer
Commercial Turkey Meat Bird
Commercial Duck Breeder
Commercial Duck Meat Bird
Animal Rescue / Rehabilitation
Commercial Table Egg Layer
Commercial Broiler Breeder
Commercial Broiler Breeder Pullets
Commercial Upland Gamebird Producer
Commercial Turkey Breeder Hens
Commercial Table Egg Pullets
Commercial Broiler Production
Commercial Turkey Breeder Replacement Hens
“Non Animal Production” 

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