Activists may have spread the bird flu in Sonoma County

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SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) — Could animal rights activists have been responsible for spreading avian flu at Sonoma County poultry farms?
A new investigation by the State Department of Food and Agriculture finds that is a possibility.
But the activists tell us that regulators are trying to divert blame away from problems inherent in the poultry industry.
Animal rights activists have targeted Sonoma County’s chicken and duck farms for years.
Bill Mattos of the California Poultry Federation tells us that the avian flu outbreak was devastating for the poultry industry in Sonoma County — more than 250,000 chicken and ducks were killed.
“When you have a depopulation of a ranch because of bird flu, the ranch is disinfected and cleaned,” Mattos said.
Now, they say poultry producers and state regulators are blaming them for shortcomings in the industry.
The state report also raises concerns about biosecurity — different farms sharing personnel and equipment, and it says the avian flu most probably came from wild birds and that the wind can spread it across different farms.


California’s Sonoma County. (KGO) – The State Department of Food and Agriculture has conducted a new investigation that raises the possibility that animal rights activists may have been the ones responsible for the spread of avian flu at poultry farms in Wine County. However, the activists inform us that regulators are attempting to shift the focus of blame from issues that are specific to the poultry industry.

Egg and poultry prices skyrocketed after the outbreak last fall, even though the situation has improved and hundreds of thousands of chickens and ducks had to be put to death.

Chicken and duck farms in Sonoma County have been the target of animal rights activists for years. We featured undercover footage from an activist hired by Reichardt Duck Farm in 2014 in an earlier I-Team report.

“The things I saw were absolutely horrifying,” the woman remarked. I’m still plagued by them today. “.

MORE: The FDA reports that certain pasteurized dairy products contain traces of the H5N1 bird flu virus.

It is now “plausible,” according to a report from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, that activists disseminated avian flu during security lapses inside the duck barns on October. 24 and November. 14 days prior to this year.

Over 250,000 chickens and ducks were killed as a result of the avian flu outbreak, according to Bill Mattos of the California Poultry Federation. This had a devastating effect on the poultry industry in Sonoma County.

“A ranch is cleaned and disinfected when there is a depopulation due to bird flu,” explained Mattos. “After that, it must remain empty for some time to ensure that no new diseases have infected it. As a result, the farmer will not be receiving pay from work for several months. “.

“We have gone back to Sunrise and Reichardt and we have documented more criminal animal cruelty and we have saved several more lives, including Elsie and River,” the activists from Direction Action Everywhere wrote on a video they had taken from the farms last fall. “.

They now claim that state regulators and chicken producers are holding them accountable for the industry’s problems. Direct Action Everywhere’s principal organizer is Almira Tanner.

MORE: How the avian flu outbreak in NorCal, which resulted in the euthanasia of over a million birds, will affect you.

She explained to us, “They’re attempting to shift the blame to the whistleblowers in order to divert attention from the fact that factory farming poses a serious risk to public health. “.”.

Concerns regarding biosecurity are also raised by the state report, which notes that the avian flu most likely originated in wild birds and that the wind can spread it to other farms due to personnel and equipment sharing.

Tanner stated, “It’s crucial to remember that the animals kept in these facilities are incredibly ill. They have numerous illnesses that we have documented, which leaves them extremely susceptible to infections of any kind. ****.

In response, Mattos said, “It really hurts the industry, but it also hurts the consumer, when someone trespasses in an animal, a place that does business and tries to raise animals. “.

For trespassing, a number of the activists are facing charges. They vow to keep doing whatever it takes to get their point of view across.

View additional reports from the ABC7 News I-Team.

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