- LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two
California poultry farmers who fed some 30,000 live chickens into wood
chippers will not face criminal charges because they had permission from
the U.S. Department of Agriculture, prosecutors said on Friday.
- But a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United
States called the farmers "callous and barbaric" and disagreed
with the decision not to prosecute them.
- The farmers needed to destroy the chickens because they
were "spent" -- or no longer able to produce eggs -- and could
not make chicken soup out of them because the farms were under quarantine
for the poultry virus Exotic Newcastle Disease, District Attorney's spokeswoman
Gayle Stewart said.
- Stewart said the men, who run a poultry farm near San
Diego, asked a senior veterinarian with the Agriculture Department if they
could employ the wood chippers and were given permission.
- "Once they had permission we decided that they did
not have any criminal intent," Stewart said.
- Brothers Arie and Will Wilgenburg, who run Escondido-based
Ward Poultry Farm, could not be reached for comment on Friday. Earlier,
they told the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper that they were doing "what
we thought we had to do" based on expert advice and stopped as soon
as they learned otherwise.
- Wayne Pacelle, a spokesman for the Humane Society, said
that explanation was unacceptable.
- "The act of feeding live chickens into a wood chipper
is an extraordinarily callous and barbaric act and I can't imagine any
person with a whit of common sense would use a wood chipper as a killing
tool," he said. "No person with any experience in killing animals
would sanction the use of this technique."
- Pacelle said the District Attorney's decision not to
prosecute the brothers rested on the "faulty assumption" that
using wood chippers to kill chickens was an accepted practice.