Inland Empire chicken owners frustrated over euthanization methods

MIRA LOMA, Calif. (KABC) -- The California Department of Food and Agriculture is working to eradicate the worst outbreak of Newcastle disease in Southern California in years, a virus that's threatening the poultry industry.

But many Inland Empire residents say they're furious about their birds and chickens being euthanized by state officials, with little information given to them.

"I want proof...If my birds are sick, euthanize them, but if they're not, please leave them alone. They're family pets," said Gina Cruz of Mira Loma, who lives in a so-called "hot zone" where 618 properties have been deemed infected.

However, the CDFA said it's not that easy.

"They're exposed and considered infected," said spokesperson Sandy Cooney of the CDFA. "And that's why they're euthanized."

Cooney said the CDFA is working on building a map where residents can gather more information about the level of infection in their neighborhood, to make the process more transparent.

"We understand that residents need more information, and we're working on a process that will allow them to better understand why their birds have to be euthanized in order to stop the spread of the virus," Cooney said in a statement.

Virulent Newcastle Disease is contagious and fatal to birds and poultry, but it's not a food safety concern. However, it's so virulent, that many birds die without showing signs of infection.
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