Roving Reporter

November, 2002

DISCLAIMER: This is submitted by an anonymous source and has been totally verified. Do not contact us for any further information since this is the only infomation we have at the current time! The identity must be protected since the reporter must protect the sources. Some/much of this information was obtained due solely to personal contacts who do not wish their identities known to State Authorities. If you have any verifiable information that you can add, send email and we will pass the information on to the proper person. Specific inquiries or questions will NOT be answered.
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Roving Reporter
Update - November 29, 2002
Comments from a man in the Mira Loma Kill Zone
LINK for geese pics (from there look for the Riverside Press Enterprises story dated November 20, 2002)
Readers' Open Forum - 11/29


Killing all birds
I am the owner of the geese in the pictures (Local section, Nov. 20). I was given no choice. The murderers admitted my birds were fat and healthy, but some godlike person had decided to kill all birds.
What was very interesting, the paperwork I had to sign said parakeets and parrots were not being killed. The man who came to my house said, "My hardest job is going into peoples' houses and killing their pet birds." I showed him the paper he had given me and he said, "Doesn't matter, my boss wants them all killed." So speaks our new god of Ag.
I guess it doesn't matter, I'm just an old man, 64 and fighting cancer, who used to spend time with my birds because it made me forget my problems.
Got to remember the egg ranches that aren't around here are more important!
Mira Loma

Roving Reporter
Update - November 26, 2002
An Outbreak of a Broken Turkey Leg Quarantined by the CDFA
LINK for this article (from there look for the North County Times story dated November 26, 2002)
We are getting really angry, along with many other bird owners, in regard to the pathetic efforts that the State has made in this devastating outbreak of END. At almost two months after the news of END was quietly announced, the media report we read today gave us pause to think that the combined IQ of those mentioned in the article is so low that they would only be able to find employment with the Task Force, since bussing tables would be too challenging.
It doesn't take a super genius to figure out that education was needed in order to let the public know what to do to help stop the spread of END but when the State needs to be educated first on what to do, you can easily see how this method would fail.
We refer you to read the latest North County Times article published on November 26, 2002 and can guarantee that you will be as angry as we are. While some statements may be fall under the category of "reporter's license," we do not feel that Mr. Brickey was far off from the truth.
Since the END outbreak was found actually in late September, why did the State not acknowledge same to the public until only a month ago? Now that depends on whether you happened to be reading our site but in general, the State didn't begin any large publicity of the outbreak until approximately November 3 and even that was a pathetic attempt. The real "publicity" actually began when CNN picked up the news on October 22, 2002, which started the ball rolling.
The article states that the State has been issuing warnings since October 1, 2002, but who have these warnings been issued to? Certainly not everyone is on the internet (the CDFA web site was less than helpful until November 3), many people don't always catch 30 second blurbs on television (which have been sparse) and newspaper articles have been few and far between depending on which paper one happens to read before October 22.
We took a very proactive stand on this site and have been encouraging education of the public since we began this site on October 8 and have reported the lack of media attention, we have preached the need to educate the feed store owners and even went so far as to design a simple poster that could be modified for use in feed stores. The only real contact the State made with feed stores was on October 18 and was previously reported in the Roving Reporter section. That attempt was actually worthless. While the UC END list reports today that information has been distributed to feed stores, it appears that they have missed quite a few in Southwest Riverside County. Locations of feed stores is easy to find by picking up a phone book and checking the yellow pages under feed stores. We would have expected this to have been done throughout the quarantine area.
We note that an owner of a feed store had her chickens drop dead while no mention is made of whether she even reported it! In her situation, she most likely was exposed to the disease due to one or more of her customers and took it home infecting her flock. How many other customers of this feed store have been inadvertently infected? We have posted precautions so that one does not track this lethal virus on one's shoes but it is apparent that the State has not sufficiently educated feed store owners on what to do in any regard. This owner is reporting that her customers had fowl dropping dead but it appears she never told them to call the CDFA either.
So who is supposed to be educating the feed store owners and customers? Apparently this task is to fall into the laps of the feed manufacturers themselves! What an inane and slow process in a high risk situation. On October 18, the Roving Reporter made a quick sample poster that could have been easily adapted for use by the State, printed in English and Spanish and placed in every feed store for customers to read. By now, handouts for every store in the effected area could have been printed and distributed. The heart of containing and stopping this outbreak lies with feed stores and while we have seen that for close to two months, the State still doesn't seem to recognize it.
Two other items were of note in that article. First, please note that certain unnamed officials are bringing up the Amazon parrot issue again even though it has been admitted that this epidemic started with gamefowl. Second, please note that the State in its kindness was able to diagnose a broken leg of a sick turkey for an owner who clearly had no clue as to the difference between that and END. That the State did testing at that site and did not just kill all the birds was already pointed out by one of our guests as being damage control.
We hope the END Task Force will someday soon get a clue that all chicken, turkey and gamefowl owners will have to purchase feed for the animals. In our opinion, the proper thing for the CDFA to do would be have a representative from the State visit each and every feed store informing the feed store operator of END, distribute procedures for disinfection and distribute large posters to be placed in the store and fliers to be given to each customer.
It appears in one case reported in the article, a feed store may even be acting as a distribution point of END itself. Disinfection must be preached to the feed store operators, and perhaps active measures forced upon the operators. Simply requiring each feed store operator to place a shallow pan with a bleach/water mixture (to be refreshed often) and requesting that the feed store operators direct customers to walk through it would help. A feed store is not like the checkout line at a Petco (for example only). It is more like Floyd's babershop in Mayberry. People do not normally simply make a purchase, exchange money and leave. Normally, weather is talked about and gossip is exchanged.
The feed store owners and employees have to be brought into the END "team" by the state directly and be utilized to inform the public on the dangers and precautions to be taken with END. Bypassing this critical step means that the feed store owner was only partially in stating, "this disease is going to hit with a boom". It's obvious that feed store owners don't know that it has already hit with a boom.

Roving Reporter
Update - November 24, 2002
The Kill Zone?
Irregardless of the fact that the State of California seems to be trying to talk out of both sides of their mouth at the same time, it is clear that "pet and EXOTIC" birds have been depopulated in the recent END outbreak. We have no idea how many exotic birds have been killed, however, and this figure is even more difficult to find that the total number of birds depopulated to date which is evasive at best.

Mr. Ernst of the UC END list cannot seem to differentiate as to what is and what is not a "pet" bird - UC END Releases check for release dated November 23, 2002.

At the same time, others are telling us that it is only a rumor that birds other than chickens, gamefowl, geese and other normal backyard fowl have been depopulated. If this is indeed a rumor, then why is Leticia Rico, the "official spokesperson for the CDFA" telling the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on November 21, 2002 that "Many of the destroyed birds have been backyard pets such as geese, ducks, parakeets and chickens, Rico said." See LINK (go to media and from there and look for the Inland Valley Press story dated November 21, 2002.)

One picture can blow the State "coverup" on this issue. Take a look at this (from there look for the Daily Bulletin story dated November 23, 2002) and check that picture of next boxes. There are visible chew marks and perches right outside the holes of some boxes. Are these in actuality the next boxes for parakeets or for cockatiels or some other small "exotic bird"?

Stay with that article you have located above and scan down further and note the following sentence - "Although Juarez's animals had no traces of the disease, they had to be destroyed through the orders of veterinarians who said there was a high likelihood nearby animals were infected, Hawkins said." Hawkins is a spokesman for the USDA. Just what are the circumstances under which the State is deciding which birds are to live and which are to die? They do not even know IF the nearby birds were infected before killing this flock. Is there any policy being followed? Are birds being tested or are they just being killed because the owner happens to live within a certain kill radius of another person in the neighboorhood?

Clearly, although the State would have you believe otherwise, there is no "policy" in place in regard to which birds will or will not be killed. If you happen to be in a certain radius, chances are that your birds will be wiped out with no testing and you will have no way of preventing it. Additionally, although the State would have you believe that birds are being tested, this is not the case either - if you are in the kill radius (whatever that happens to be at the time) your birds are killed.

Here is an email that has appeared in at least a couple of the Internet Email lists. The recipient of said email has not been disclosed:


Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2002

I understand and appreciate your concerns about actions taken to contain and eradicate Exotic Newcastle Disease in California. Our goal is to act quickly to contain this disease before it devastates more bird owners. I want to assure you that as veterinarians we never take euthanasia lightly. We are well aware of how overwhelming it is to loose a beloved animal. Decisions to destroy potentially exposed and infected birds are always made by a veterinarian. There is no "policy" for destroying birds within a fixed area. Rather, we quarantine premises within a fixed area in order to immediately stop movement of birds and equipment, and then we assess the situation and make case-by-case determinations of appropriate action. I must reiterate that our goal is to limit the devastating impact of this disease and that all euthanasia decisions are weighed carefully. We are working diligently to address the concerns of impacted neighborhoods. Please feel free to contact the END Task Force at 562-795-1940 (ask for the Disease Specialist) with further questions.

Annette Whiteford, DVM
END Task Force Incident Commander


Now that we have an "unofficial" statement by the commanding vet connected with the END task force, some of the questions posed above can be answered.

The facts speak pretty clearly for themselves. The State wants to stop this outbreak before it hits the commercial poultry industry and/or speads to other areas. This alone makes it easier and more cost effective to simply kill within an effected radius. The State is willing to sacrifice the indivual owners' pets for the sake of the large commercial industries. Testing should be conducted - not just out and out kill. The large poultry companies should be assisting in funding the State's erradication efforts, however, they are not. The "regular" California taxpayers are funding this. These are the same taxpayers whose birds are being killed for the benefit of the commericial poultry farms.

Roving Reporter
Update - November 6, 2002
Confusion and Chaos?
We have received reports that the Bird Mart scheduled for December 1, 2002 in Pomona, CA is indeed going to be held, complete with birds! From what we have heard, the Fairplex in Pomona is not a State/County Fair Grounds property which was covered by the State ban. We have no further information other than this but we think it bordering on insanity to allow this Bird Mart to be allowed at this time.
Stay home and DO NOT GO! Even the UC END release says "bird owners are encouraged to protect the health of their birds by avoiding unnecessary contact with other birds or bird collectors." This Bird Mart should NOT be held - the organizers should be ashamed! If the State does not intervene, indeed the State is equally responsible. This is chaos!
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