KERNERSVILLE, N.C. – Fear of a bird flu outbreak has state agriculture leaders asking new things of backyard chicken owners.
Until now, the state has allowed city and county rules to determine who can have chickens on their property.
While local governments will still be able to determine the rules, state leaders now want all chickens registered, no matter how small the flock.
“In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist,” said Doug Meckes, the state veterinarian for North Carolina. “We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks.”
The state fears that the southern migration of ducks and geese could leave local birds vulnerable to the disease. A moratorium on bird shows and sales is already in place and bird owners have been told to be cautious when visiting places like feed stores.
This new step of forcing backyard chicken owners to register their animals upsets owners like Sandra Robles.
“These chickens are enclosed they have no access to water fowl, they have no access to anything that would infect them,” said Robles, who keeps five birds in the backyard of her Kernersville home.
Robles is convinced her chickens are at low risk for contracting or spreading bird flu. She dismisses the state’s argument that having chickens charted can help the state keep owners informed of nearby outbreaks.
“I can just as easily get that information by going to their website,” said Robles.
She also doesn’t want concerns over sick birds to lead to the confiscation or killing of her chickens.