Senate approves measure to control bird flu
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Dawn Euer to control potential outbreaks of bird flu and other animal diseases.
The bill (2022-S 2751) provides the Department of Environmental Management authority to set up a quarantine area consistent with state and United States Department of Agriculture emergency plans to prevent the movement of domestic animals or products when there is a suspected case of a contagious animal disease such as bird flu.
The change was been requested by the DEM to help the state respond to a current outbreak of a highly contagious strain of avian influenza, which has been spreading across the nation since January and has been identified in neighboring states. While this strain does not affect humans, it is lethal to birds and can wipe out an entire flock.
Although there haven’t been any cases reported in Rhode Island yet among domestic animals, Veterinarian Scott Marshall testified that he is confident it is already present in the state’s wildlife.
“Avian influenza is extremely contagious, and can not only wipe out an entire flock – it can move quickly to destroy others because it can travel through wild birds or animals that are sold or transported from one farm to another. I am grateful to DEM for being proactive with this legislation for the protection of animals, farms and those with small flocks in our state,” said Chairwoman Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown).
The legislation now goes to the House, which has passed identical legislation (2022-H 7785) sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).