August 17, 2004 Shipping Update

As we know, bird shippers have been subject to an air carrier standard that birds will not be shipped if the temperature on the tarmac reaches 85 degrees F for four hours. As BSA has explained to airline personnel and officials of the United States Postal Service (USPS), such a standard was adopted under the Animal Welfare Act for the shipment of cats and dogs and should not apply day-old chicks. BSA has provided such opinions from a professor at the University of Georgia as well as the (then) Deputy Administrator of Veterinary Services of the Animal, Plant and Health Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Unfortunately, airline officials have not seen fit to acknowledge this fact in their shipping policies and the USPS has taken the legal position that it cannot (read: “will not”) require the air carriers to adopt a different policy.
In order to conclusively demonstrate that the standard is inappropriate to the shipment of day-old chicks, BSA commissioned a study on the subject. That study was undertaken by personnel at the Department of Biology at Austin College in Texas and the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of California-Davis. The study is now completed and will be published in a peer reviewed professional journal in the near future. The Executive Summary of the study states:
This study was undertaken to determine the survivability of recently hatched chicks while in transit considering the variances in temperature that may occur. Neonatal chicks were exposed for four hours to an outside temperature within an 18-100 degree F range to replicate such conditions. Only two chicks died during the study in one box at 18 degrees F and one at 27 degrees F. These deaths were attributed to suffocation by three-dimensional huddling behavior of the chicks. No additional mortality occurred in the days following any of the trials. By taking body temperatures, sound recordings to determine stress, and utilizing standard shipping boxes, it was concluded that domestic chicken chicks are able to survive shipping in temperatures from 18 degrees F to 100 degrees F.
[Emphasis added].
I. AIR CARRIER POLICY ON TEMPERATURE
The study has been forwarded to the staffs of Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). Utilizing the study the following will be undertaken:
1. Radio Broadcast – Each week Senator Grassley does a radio broadcast that is carried on 22 radio stations in Iowa. This broadcast is always monitored by personnel at the Department of Agriculture. Part of the subject matter for a recent broadcast was on the airline temperature issue for chicks. The main thrust of the message is that the Senator has been disappointed that USDA and the USPS have not forced the airlines to accept the scientific facts regarding temperature parameters for the shipment of birds by imposing the restrictions of the Animal Welfare Act as it relates to dogs and cats. Therefore, he “intends” to remedy that situation.
2. Press Release – A press release was issued from the Senator’s office on the subject.
3. Letters –
A. USDA
A letter from the Senator Grassley (that may be co-signed by Senator Feingold) enclosing the BSA study will be written to Ron DeHaven, now Administrator of the Animal, Plant and Health Service (APHIS) of USDA requesting him to expand on his previous letter (when he was the Deputy Administrator of Veterinary Services of APHIS) on the temperature issue but specifically mentioning temperature as it relates to air shipment of chicks.
B. USPS
When the reply from Dr. DeHaven is received, it will be sent by the Senator(s) to Paul E. Vogel, Vice President, Network Operations Management, USPS, along with the BSA study requesting that the USPS require air carriers to acknowledge the temperature parameters for shipment of chicks in all future contacts between air carriers and the USPS.
4. Legislation –
If the USPS refuses to require such language in its contracts with airlines (that, based on previous experience, may be the case), legislation will be introduced to mandate such adherence.
II. FEDERAL EXPRESS –
As you recall, Federal Express has taken the position that it s exempted under the language of the legislation we obtained regarding the shipment of day-old chicks by air mail. The exception states any air carriers “who commonly and regularly refuses to accept live animals as cargo” are not covered. Federal Express does, in fact, carry live animals as cargo. By contact, however, the USPS allowed Federal Express not to carry live animals by mail utilizing the discretionary language of the statute that “the Postal service may require air carriers to accept day=old poultry …to be transmitted as mail matter.” [Emphasis added].
With Congressional assistance, this matter will continue to be pursued