Ohio Department of Agriculture Lifts Ban on Bird Exhibition
by Cindy Alverson, Executive Director
On December 17, 2015, The Ohio Department of Agriculture officially rescinded the order prohibiting bird exhibition in Ohio. This order which was effective June, 2015 was originally intended to remain in place till April, 2016 due to the threat of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak in Ohio.
With no confirmed cases in Ohio and no immediate threat of the avian influenza, State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey and Ohio Agriculture Director, David T. Daniels rescinded the ban which applied to country and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair and all other gatherings of birds for show or for sale including sales, swap meets. RAPTOR Inc. was hit hard having to cancel 63 scheduled presentations accounting for the elimination of one of our main revenue streams.
From the Pacific Coast to the Midwest, 16 states reported cases of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in late 2014 and continuing through the spring and summer of 2015, over 48 million birds were affected nationally. The avian flu is an extremely contagious virus that primarily affects domestic poultry and is likely spread by wild, migrating birds. With Ohio being the second largest egg producer in the country and home to 28 million laying chickens, 12 million broilers and 2 million turkeys, it was felt Ohio was particularly vulnerable to an outbreak of the disease. These chicken and turkey farms contribute to the health of the state’s economy and it was felt the 14,600 jobs created by these farms needed to be protected.
With the ban of taking our educational avian ambassadors off-site to educational presentations in effect from late June to late December, we focused on ways to bring guests on-site to learn about raptors. Dens of scouts visited our facility and learned about raptors as well as performed service projects. Families toured our avian ambassadors on “Soar-In Sundays”. A Montessori school was able to tour our facility, as well as make owl masks and participate in a raptor identification game. As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” and so it was with RAPTOR Inc.; we were able to refocus our energy and schedule 26 on-site presentations.
Although the ban is now lifted and we will be traveling off-site for presentations, RAPTOR has taken steps to be open to the public at our Milford facility in 2016. Open Houses will be the last Sunday of the month, 1 – 4 PM, except in December when our open house will be December 18. We will continue being open to the public by appointment for private tours. Donations will be gladly accepted and appreciated. See our public appearance schedule at http://raptorinc.org/programs-open-to-the-public/.
At the open houses, you will have the opportunity to view our educational ambassadors and learn more about raptors, speak with our trained educators, hear the vocalizations of native raptors and touch bio-facts. It will be fun for the whole family!