Groups urge feds to issue no transport alert over frigid temperatures

Chickens particularly susceptible to extreme weather, say activists.
Brett Ruffell
January 03, 2018
By Brett Ruffell
January 3, 2018, Toronto, Ont. - Two activist groups are urging the federal government to declare a no transport alert for livestock due to frigid temperatures.

Environment Canada has issued extreme weather alerts in recent days for much of Canada as temperatures plummeted. 

Yet, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) Cold Weather Notice: Humane Transport and Animal Welfare, there is no specified temperature below which animals may not be transported, the activists decried in a press release.

The approach is the same in the Recommended code of practice for the care and handling of farm animals, they added, complaining that both are guidance only documents.

"The CFIA and the minister of agriculture have little control of industry actions," said Liz White, leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada (APPC), a fringe political party focused on animal rights and environmentalism. 

“The CFIA uses risk-based assessment of animal deaths from exposure after they arrive at the slaughter plant,” she added. “The suffering of these animals has already occurred.  The CFIA does not prevent the cruelty but assesses it after the fact.”

Stephanie Brown, director of the activist group Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA), claimed that chickens are particularly at risk from freezing to death.

"Spent hens cannot protect themselves because of their depleted body condition and absence of feathers,” she said. “Trucks carry 10,000 birds in all kinds of weather and large numbers die from exposure.  The suffering is enormous.

“Industry guidelines suggest spent hens should travel in temperatures ranging from 13°C to 30°C but they are just guidelines, not regulations, and they are not enforced," Brown continued. 

“CFIA's infrequent highway inspections of animal transport vehicles are totally inadequate.  An ATIP request revealed the CFIA conducted only 58 highway inspections across Canada during a 530-day period.

In a joint press release, both groups called on Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay to issue a no transport alert during extreme cold weather events.

They also want the feds to establish temperatures (hot and cold) above and below which transport will be prohibited.

Brown concluded, “Regulations, not guidelines, are needed to ensure compliance.”

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