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HK officials enforce poultry ban
By Teddy Ng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-14 06:09

HONG KONG: Officials yesterday fanned around rural areas to enforce a ban on raising poultry as the special administrative region tries to prevent bird flu from taking hold.

Hong Kong's legislature last week passed an emergency law banning backyard poultry farming after six wild birds and two chickens were killed in the past three weeks.

Officials have also warned that poultry would be culled without any warning should another case of bird flu emerge.

Residents raising poultry face prosecution and a maximum fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,900) unless they have a licence to raise them as pets.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) assistant director Liu Kwei-kin said the 200-member inspection team seized 82 poultry from 12 households, including 71 chickens, nine geese and two ducks.

Liu said the first day's operation was smooth, and only one of the 12 households resisted before handing over the poultry.

Liu expects his staff to inspect 750 villages and 300 urban squatter villages in four to six weeks.

Some villagers said they were saddened by the legislation.

Ma Chung, a 72-year-old Au Ha Village residen who has been raising three chickens for five years, says he will not apply for a licence to keep them as pets as it would cost him HK$10,000 (US$1,290) a year.

"I am only a small farmer. I cannot afford so much for the licence fee," he said.

Ma said he had already cooked three chickens on Sunday, but he and his wife found it too "heartbreaking" to eat them. "I don't want to lose them. The chickens are already part of my life. Life without my pets will be boring," he said.

A Man Uk Pin Village resident, Lau Sau-fung, who keeps two chickens and seven geese, shared Ma's feeling.

With tears in her eyes, she said she used to donate the money from selling eggs to charity groups.

Lau said she bathed her geese and fed the chickens yesterday morning before AFCD officials took them away.

(China Daily 02/14/2006 page1)

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