The farmer, Bill Wilgenburg, said he had to
use a mulcher . . . because of rules imposed by the federal-state
Task Force on Newcastle Disease" that prevented him from
moving his "spent" hens off the property. - North County
San Diego County investigated the Ward Egg Ranch, whose workers
said their arms got tired "from breaking the chickens' necks,
so they threw them into the machinery." USDA veterinary
consultant Gregg Cutler, who sits on the Animal Welfare Committee
of the AVMA, reportedly told the ranch the wood chipper was "painless"
(San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/22). Though County Animal Services
Lt. Mary Kay Gagliardo said "It's clearly animal cruelty"
(North County Times, 2/28), the DA's Office announced
on April 10 that the company "did not commit any crime because
a veterinarian from the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave them
permission to use wood chippers to destroy the birds" (San
Diego Union Tribune, 4/11).
UPC had urged the District Attorney to prosecute the company
and wrote to the AVMA concerning Cutler's advice to use wood-chippers.
The AVMA wrote back: "Dr. Cutler informed us that he never
recommended using a wood chipper." UPC is doing a follow-
up investigation of this case.