Hazmat suits in the chicken coop

By Mark Squibb/January 27, 2022

In 2022, it seems you can trade in the phrase ‘fox in the henhouse’ to ‘inspection agents in the henhouse.’

Conception Bay South councilor Rex Hillier has confirmed that agents from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have been inspecting local chicken coops following the discovery of bird flu among fowl in Mount Pearl and St. John’s.

In early January a strain of bird flu was found to have been responsible for the death of 360 birds at Lester’s Farm Chalet in Mount Pearl. The remaining 59 birds were killed to prevent further spread.

Hillier, chairman of the planning and developing committee, said the inspection agency contacted the Town on January 11 and asked for a list of addresses in town where residents are raising chickens.

The problem, said Hillier, is that many hobby farms aren’t registered with the Town.

“There are a lot that we have registered with permits, but we all know that there are those out there working without permits,” said Hillier. “And this is an indication of how important it is to have permits in place, so we know that we can contact people if they have chickens on their properties, or we can pass that information on to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and they can contact them and do a follow-up.”

Hillier said the Town was able to provide 26 hobby farm addresses to the inspection agency. How many hobby farms are operating without a permit is unknown.

Hillier said he has heard firsthand from local farmers about the inspections.

“I was talking with a local farmer, and he was telling me that they had come to his property, and had inspected his flock of chickens,” said Hiller. “He made the comment, ‘If my grandfather had seen the hazmat suits that they had put on to go and check on my chickens, he would have rolled over in his grave.”

Hillier said he’s not sure what the next steps will be if bird flu is detected in CBS — and hopes he doesn’t have to find out.

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