Acceptance of Live Shipments by USPS

To follow is a letter from Paul Vogel, Network Operations Manager for USPS, concerning acceptance of live shipments. Below his letter is the response from Bird Shippers of America to the issues raised in Mr. Vogel’s letter.

PO BOX 458
March 20, 2006
Paul E. Vogel, Vice President
Network Operations Management
United States Postal Service
476 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Room 7011
Washington, DC 20260-6251
Dear Paul:
The Bird Shippers of America appreciate the efforts the USPS in addressing the problems bird shippers have been experiencing in the recent past. Therefore, we appreciated receiving a copy of the March 6, 2006 communication to Vice Presidents, Area Operations Manager, and Capital Metro Operations of the United States Postal Service (USPS) on the Acceptance of Lives.
Unfortunately, we have some major concerns with the substance of the letter in three areas.
Firstly, the suggested procedure permitting the District Managers to establish local procedures and acceptance-point guidelines to be followed by the District Expedited Services Office (ESO) within each District will, we believe, unavoidably create a variety of different policies and procedures which cannot help but result in inconsistency and, therefore, uncertainty for the shippers and customers. We believe a uniform policy for the entire country is warranted and would result in a far more efficient system.
Secondly, as far as contacting the ESO when there is to be a mailing, many times the ordering process does not permit timely notice. For example, one of our members recently had 800 orders in one week 300 of which were booked between Monday and Wednesday. Timely notification cannot always be done.
The third area of concern is the four (4) hour limitation on surface transportation. We have shippers in southern California who will not be able to ship to northern California, Washington or Oregon. One shipper in the southwest cannot even reach postal distribution centers in Albuquerque or Dallas in four (4) hours. Another shipper in Texas cannot reach customers in Oklahoma, Louisiana, south and north Texas, Tennessee, lower Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and the panhandle of Florida by air and has to rely on surface transportation that results in trips that are longer that a four (4) hours.
Immediately after the 9/11tragedy, bird shippers had to use all surface transportation for deliveries throughout the country in trips exceeding four (4) ours and had no problems. In sum, if this limitation is imposed, it will be economically devastating to many, many bird shippers throughout the country. We feel that the limitation is unrealistic and arbitrary; especially when a policy of no time limitation has been successful for many years.
It is interesting that one of the USPS Area Managers encouraged one of the bird shippers to take more bird shipments by surface transportation resulting in trips that were far longer than four (4) hours. The suggestion was followed with no resulting problems
We sincerely hope you will consider our concerns and would be most willing to discuss these matters with you or your staff. If we can answer any questions regarding the above comments, we trust you will contact us. Again, the industry appreciates your efforts on our behalf.
Murray McMurray


The ability to ship poultry to you is being threatened by unwarranted accusations from animal rights groups AND the inability of the Post Office and their air carriers to deliver our products in a timely and efficient manner.
The following is a summary of the legislation Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced in the U.S. Senate on Friday, March 10th. The three points Senator Grassley makes, as well as information regarding avian influenza (Bird Flu), are extremely important to the continued success of shipping live poultry through the U.S. Postal System.
We need your help, and the help of your friends, to make this proposal – law. For your convenience we have set up a webpage We need your help. Write your Senator today. where you can print a custom letter to be Mailed or Faxed to each of your Senators. If you feel strongly about your right to receive birds through the mail, or your business or hobby would endure severe hardships if you could not receive birds, please take the time to submit your letter. All of us in the bird shipping business greatly appreciate your help in this most important issue.
Thank you.
Murray McMurray, Chairman
Bird Shippers of America
On March 9, 2006, Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced S. 2395 that specifically addresses three major problems that face bird shippers that transport birds by mail:
1. Mandating that any air carrier that has a contract to ship mail must carry poultry as mail unless it commonly and regularly refuses to carry any animals as cargo.
This provision specifically refers to Federal Express (FedEx) that took over the Eagle Service previously run by the United States Postal Service (USPS). In a response to a letter from the USPS that FedEx must take birds as mail, FedEx took the legal position that it was not covered by the previous passed statute mandating the carrying of birds by mail because the statute states, inter alia, that “the Postal Service may require any air carrier to accept as mail shipments of day-old poultry and such other live animals as postal regulations allow to be transmitted as mail matter. The authority of the Postal Service under this subparagraph shall not apply in the case of any air carrier who commonly and regularly refuses to accept any live animals as cargo. [Emphasis added]. 39 USC § 5402(d)(2)(A). FedEx maintains that it “commonly and regularly” refuses “accept any live animals as cargo.” Id. Factually, this is not true as FedEx does carry all types of animals except dogs, cats and bees. Consequently, the provisions states that if the air carrier transport any animals by cargo, it must take birds by air mail.
2. Mandating that air carries will guarantee delivery of mail form point of origin to final destination.
This provision addresses the problem where Delta Airlines unilaterally announced to the USPS that it would not longer take transfers of lives. You could ship from A to B but not from A to B to C. It has been reported that some other air carriers have taken a similar position on certain routes. If the air carrier has a mail contract, this provision guarantees delivery.
3. Mandating that air carriers shall accept and carry birds as air mail when the outside temperature is between 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.77 degrees Celsius) and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.77 degrees Celsius) from point of origin through the point of destination.
In the past, airlines have notified the USPS that they will not carry lives when the temperature reaches 85 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Although the industry and the Department of Agriculture have informed the airlines and the USPS that that standard should not apply to day old chicks, USPS and the airlines ignore the science based conclusions and continue to rely on guidelines set under the Animal Welfare Act for dogs and cats: “The ambient temperature…must not rise above 85 deg. F. (29.5 deg. C) for more than 4 consecutive hours when dogs and cats are present.” [Emphasis added]. 9 CFR § 3.2 (a). This standard is inappropriate for several legal, scientific and practical reasons.
Firstly, “poultry” is exempt for the Animal Welfare Act and the regulations there under. 7 USC § 2132(g); 9 CFR § 1.1.
Secondly, the regulation has time restrictions that, in practice, would not apply to the shipment of day-old chicks in that shippers deliver the shipments in a manner for timely air transport so there will not be extended delay before scheduled airplane departures and arrangements are made for immediate pick-up at the delivery point.
Thirdly, is the scientific consideration that the 85 degree F is an inappropriate temperature level to deny shipment of day-old chicks in that the chicks are hatched in 95 to 100 degrees F and should be kept at 95-100 degree F for up to one week of age, gradually reducing it each week. Consequently, 85 degrees F and above is not harmful to the health and safety of day day-old chicks in air transit. At the lower end of the temperature, experience in the industry indicates that shipments of day-old chicks does not result in mortality if timely delivered.
One other issue has been raised regarding shipments of poultry – the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. In a letter dated November 21, 2005, Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), wrote Postmaster General John E. Potter citing “long-standing concerns” of the practice of the air mail of birds because of the “sever humane implications for millions of birds mailed across the county every year.” Pacelle also stated that the shipping of day-old chicks currently “warranted attention on the possibility of a worldwide pandemic related to avian influenza.”
Citing the discretionary aspect of legislation previously passed by the Congress that mandates air carriers to accept live animals as mail if the carrier, Pacelle urged the USPS to immediately rescind its current policy of requiring airlines to accept live day-old chicks for shipment. 39 USC § 5402(e)(2)(A). BSA under took research on the matter and obtained opinions from various avian health pathologists and veterinarians that, to date, there is not sufficient data to cause any drastic action resulting in a ban of interstate commerce in shipping day-old birds. More significantly, however, there is no scientific evidence any where in the world to indicate that day-old birds have been a carrier of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. Senator Grassley addressed that issue, as well as the other points discussed above, in his statement on the Floor of the Senate when he introduced S. 2395:
Mr. President I rise to introduce legislation that would address the concerns related to the shipping of live birds through the United States Postal Service. I introduced a similar bill during the 107th Congress with bi-partisan support. It was included in Public Law 107-67. This bill should close some loopholes that some of the airlines are using to avoid the timely shipping of day-old baby chicks.
Some members of the airline industry stated that they commonly and regularly refuse to transport shipments of some species of live animals for its regularly scheduled cargo service and, therefore, can refuse to carry any live animals by mail under existing law. My bill will make the law apply to “any air carrier that commonly and regularly carries any live animals as cargo,” thus making sure that if the air carrier does ship any live animals as cargo, it will be required to ship animals as mail.
There have been accusations that the shipping of day-old poultry could spread avian influenza. I have received information from Avian Health Veterinarians and they have informed me that avian influenza is not an egg transmitted disease. There are no reports of day-old poultry from infected breeders being infected with avian influenza when they hatch.
Poultry health specialists have been examining the vertical transmission, or parents-to-chicks via the egg of avian influenza, for more than 30 years. Studies looking at the avian influenza have consistently failed to reveal evidence of avian influenza virus infections in newly hatched chicks from infected parent flocks.
This clearly shows that day-old poultry are not likely to be naturally infected. So the risk of transmitting avian influenza through shipment of day-old poultry is not an issue.
This bill would also address two other problems that have caused an adverse economic impact to bird shippers. First, the bill requires air carriers
that take poultry as mail, to transfer such shipments so that the shipper is guaranteed that the shipment will reach its ultimate destination.
Second, it requires an air carrier to take shipments of poultry as air mail when the outside temperature is between 0 degrees Fahrenheit -17 degrees Celsius and 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.77 degrees Celsius from point of origin of the shipment through the point of destination. These temperature parameters are accepted by avian veterinarians as safe and humane.
Although the U. S. Constitution and federal statutes enacted by the Congress mandate and guarantee that postal patrons receive “prompt, reliable and efficient” postal service “to all communities,” this is certainly not been the recent experience of the postal patrons within the poultry and game bird industry. S. 2395 can correct that situation. However, there is no doubt that this legislation will be vigorously opposed by the air carriers as well as the animal rights organizations. Therefore, it is imperative that members of the bird shipping industry – producers and customers – write their respective Senators urging, not only their support of S. 2395, but request them to co-sponsor the bill. Only through a vigorous grass-roots effort can we be successful.
Following is a suggested letter, however, use your own words and give examples of the problems your particular business has encountered as a result of postal and airline policies. Feel free to use any of the above information in your correspondence. If you can visit the Senator’s District office in your state and speak to a member of the Senator’s staff, so much the better.
Your contact is important and, since you are a constituent of your Senator, your opinion will be considered.