400 Pregnant Cattle Die During Transport from U.S. to Russia
Animal Welfare Groups Demand Government Action
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
There have been reports that 400 pregnant cattle died en route from the U.S. to Russia. The lot consisted of 3,900 cattle being transported by ship called the Pearl of Para. Red flags were raised after the ship had docked temporarily July 30 and smells from the ship became apparent.
Early reports are stating that the animals may have died due to poor ventilation, suffocating from ammonia fumes, by their own manure, even though U.S. transport regulations state that ship vessels carrying animals for export purposes must have backup fans on board in case of a malfunction during the trip.
With U.S. live cattle exports increasing rapidly to countries such as Turkey, Russia, and Kazakhstan, animal welfare practices should be a high priority. Live cattle exports are usually sent to help establish breeding herds. Last year, the USDA reported 100,000 animals the majority of them being pregnant dairy cattle being transported by ship with journeys taking up to two weeks at a time. Livestock transportation usually creates stress on some level for livestock, but it’s usually never life threatening.
Animal welfare advocates have been lobbying the U.S. government since early 2011 to revisit and update the federal animal export regulations to include additional criteria including “fitness and travel”. Sometimes it takes a tragedy and wide-spread awareness for action to happen. Let’s hope that the U.S. government will respond to this tragedy swiftly. Petitions presented by animal welfare groups in 2011 still have not been addressed by the government.
"We hope USDA will take a long hard look at this incident and realize that is no justification for these nightmarish journeys,” says Leah Garces, USA director for Compassion in World Farming.