Vietnam government stops wild bird culls
The Vietnamese Government has ordered an immediate halt to the culls of wild birds in Ho Chi Minh City, and the cities of Da Nang and Hue. City authorities had embarked on the culls, using poison and guns, in an attempt to prevent the spread of avian flu from the countryside.
The culls mostly targeted feral pigeons, but egrets and herons were also killed, and one city official said the aim was to empty the city skies of wild birds.
Representatives of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization met the Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to discuss the culls. The Ministry had already explained that the cities were acting unilaterally, and that that the Vietnamese government had not authorised or recommended these culls.
In an official letter dated 6 December 2005 and sent to the three cities, Mr Bui Quang Anh, Director General of the Department of Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, wrote: "The killing of pigeons and wild birds is not a national policy. This practice is not only an inappropriate measure but is also likely to cause bad effects to the ecosystem. Some international organisations have already expressed their great concerns regarding this practice. The Department of Animal Health at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has therefore requested Provincial Departments of Animal Health to advise Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Provincial People's Committees to stop the killing of pigeons and wild birds."
"Attempts to cull wild birds are even more misguided – the target is wrong and the approach is completely ineffective." —Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife International
Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife International's Director of Science and Policy, asserts that the current focus on wild birds is misplaced and a potentially dangerous diversion of energy, effort and resources. "Attempts to cull wild birds are even more misguided – the target is wrong and the approach is completely ineffective."
Juan Lubroth, FAO senior officer responsible for infectious animal diseases, had earlier commented: "[Culls are] unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of humans against avian influenza. There are other, much more important measures to be considered that deserve priority attention."