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Press Release November 2005

Fears grow that birds from the flu-infected quarantine facility were sold to the public

The Animal Protection Agency (APA) has called on the Government to conduct a more thorough investigation into the activities of Pegasus Birds in relation to the infected quarantine facility to allay fears that potentially infected birds were sold to the public.

APA, the national organisation campaigning against the trade in wild animals for pets, has claimed that the reported incinerations - without veterinary examination - of a consignment of deceased black-headed caique birds is 'highly suspiciousą. The Agency has filmed evidence of black-headed caiques being sold at a bird market in Stafford on 9th October 2005 when it was reported that 34 birds of this species (together worth more than £3,500) had died during quarantine and were incinerated during the period leading up to 7th October 2005.

According to DEFRA's 'Epidemiology Report on Avian Influenza in a Quarantine Premises in Essex', investigations to date have not revealed evidence of live birds being removed from the facility and sold but, at the same time, no assurance has been given that this did not take place.

Says Elaine Toland, Director of APA:
"DEFRA's Epidemiology Report leaves a great many questions unanswered and stones unturned. Serious questions now need to be asked about the source of birds sold by the company of Brett Hammond ­ a convicted fraudster ­ at the Stafford event on 9th October. Just because the 'evidence' has been thrown on the fire doesn't mean that a paper trail won't reveal the full facts and we will assist DEFRA all we can.

"If the dealer's claim is true that 100% of the birds in this one consignment did in fact die before and during the quarantine period then this is also of grave concern to us. It shows yet again how destructive, wasteful and inhumane the bird business is. The only real answer to all of this is to permanently ban the trade in wild animals and divert resources towards tackling smuggling."

APA is currently assisting Essex County Council's Trading Standards Department with its enquiries into the matter.

Issued: 17 November 2005