Backyard Poultry Banned in Jakarta

JAKARTA ~ Backyard poultry will be banned from Jakarta from February 1 in an effort to fight bird flu, which has already killed four people in Indonesia this year, city governor Sutiyoso said on Wednesday.

He gave people two weeks to dispose of their birds before the authorities kill them.

“As of today, 17 January 2007, until 31 January 2007, people are asked to voluntarily eliminate their fowl but by consuming them in the proper way … selling them or destroying them,” Sutiyoso said after leading a meeting on bird flu at the city hall.

“As of 1 February, 2007, it will be forbidden to keep birds in residential environments,” he added.

He said people who destroyed their poultry would be eligible for compensation of Rp12,500 rupiah (US$1.4) per bird.

The governor’s decree covers chicken, ducks, swans, quail and pigeons.

Birds kept as pets or for a hobby as well as those raised for research purposes would still be allowed but owners would have to obtain a certificate, issued free of charge by the animal husbandry office.

Authorities would conduct regular inspections and destroy any birds kept without the proper certificate, he said, adding that after January 31, no compensation would be paid for slaughtered birds.

Concerned ministers and officials from the three worst-hit areas – Jakarta and the neighboring provinces of West Java and Banten – met on Monday and decided to ban backyard farming in those areas.

Indonesia’s efforts to curb the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu have been hampered by the reluctance of some poultry owners, especially backyard farmers, to hand over their sick or potentially infected birds for slaughter.

The authorities, especially at provincial level and below, have so far been reluctant to clear residential areas of backyard poultry farms, saying it would be too costly for the government and the bird owners.

Officials had instead advocated the mass vaccination of poultry.

Scientists fear the H5N1 strain could mutate to become easily transmissible among people, which could in turn lead to a global human flu pandemic with a potential death toll of millions.

H5N1 has killed around 160 people worldwide since late 2003 and triggered the mass slaughter of tens of millions of poultry.

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