Reports give wrong impression of UK poultry protection measures


Social media posts shared in Australia and parts of Europe have exaggerated poultry protection measures announced by the previous UK government in March this year. The posts misleadingly claimed that bird keepers in Scotland would face “six months in prison” or a hefty fine if they failed to register a single chicken. A spokesperson for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said prison sentences were reserved for those who caused “serious harm”, not for failing to register a single bird.

“6 months imprisonment or £5000 fine if you fail to register that you keep even 1 chicken in Scotland, starting 1st September 2024. It’s for your own good!!!” reads the text that goes over a image shared by a Facebook page in Australia on June 7, 2024.

The post was shared more than 1,800 times with the caption: “I just checked this and it’s true.”

The same claim also circulated elsewhere here in Australia, as well as in CroatiaAnd Ireland.

<span>Screenshot of the fake Facebook post, captured on July 8, 2024</span>” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTQzMA–/”/><span><knop klasse=

Screenshot of the fake Facebook post, captured on July 8, 2024

The messages appeared online after the last British government announced new measures on March 19, 2024 requiring poultry farmers to register their birds, regardless of flock size, whereby earlier they were only asked to do this if they kept more than 50 birds (archived links) here And here).

It came after the UK’s worst ever crisis. bird flu outbreak with more than 360 registered cases since the end of October 2021 (archived link).

The government’s press release did not mention any specific fine or penalty for violations of the new registration rules.

Instead, reference was made to the sanctions contained in the Animal Health Act 2002, Article 75, including a prison sentence of up to six months or a fine up to level 5 on the standard scale (archived links) here And here).

However, a government spokesman told AFP that the reports exaggerated the punishments for violating these laws.

Legal sanctions

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs A spokesperson confirmed in a telephone interview with AFP on April 18, 2024 that it is theoretically possible for someone to face a prison sentence for not registering their poultry herd, but that in practice this is very unlikely (archived link).

“We really do our best to do all the work we can to stop them before they ever get a fine,” the spokesman said. “No one has ever been sent to prison for breaches of the Animal Health Act.”

The spokesperson also explained that the highest penalties apply to people who deliberately commit acts that cause serious harm or endanger public health, not to people who never forget to register a single bird.

Christine MiddenmissChief Veterinarian of the United Kingdom, mention that the new rules will allow authorities to “have a complete picture of the number and location of birds kept in Britain, making it easier to monitor and control the spread of bird diseases” (archived links here And here).

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