Pig Carcasses Found in Hunan River

CHINA - Scores of dead pigs have been retrieved from a Central China waterway, just weeks after thousands were discovered in Shanghai's Huangpu River.
calendar icon 9 April 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Authorities have been pulling the carcasses from Liuyang River in Hunan province since Saturday, 6 April. More than 70 pigs had been retrieved as of Sunday (7 April), but an official figure has yet to be released.

The carcasses were probably dumped by pig farmers upstream and were carried along the river due to recent rainstorms, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported on Monday (8 April), quoting an unnamed agriculture, forestry and water resources official for Changsha's Kaifu district.

"We have to immediately remove them in a sanitary way to avoid water pollution and contamination," the official said.

Wu Guohua, another official, said it is rare to see such a large amount of dead pigs in the river.

The district environmental protection bureau said it will closely monitor the river's water quality to guarantee residents' safety.

"No bird flu virus was detected on the dead pigs," Tan Jingming, deputy director of the Changsha animal disease prevention and control center, said.

A series of similar discoveries have been reported across China since residents started complaining on 5 March about finding dead pigs in Huangpu River.

There has been an abnormally high number of dead hogs following an outbreak of porcine circovirus, a common disease, plus changeable weather this winter, the Ministry of Agriculture said on its website.

"Authorities should seriously investigate where the dead pigs come from and harshly punish the pig dumpers," said a resident surnamed Zhang, who said the situation posed a great threat to people's safety, especially after a new and deadly strain of bird flu was detected.

The discovery of tens of thousands of pig carcasses nationwide has raised concerns about how the country deals with numerous dead pigs every year.

The National Bureau of Statistics said China had about 700 million pigs in 2012, of which 18 million died of disease.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, pig farmers can get a subsidy of 80 yuan ($12) for each pig dead of disease. Regulations require animals that died in this way to be disposed of in a sanitary way, such as burial at least 1.5 meters deep or cremated.

But because the subsidy application process is complicated, many pig farmers choose to sell the dead pigs to illegal buyers, said Li Waiguang, a farmer in Yingtan, Jiangxi province.

"If authorities crack down on dead pig transactions, farmers will dump the dead into the nearest rivers," he added.

Mr Waiguang suggested authorities establish sanitary treatment stations for dead animals to help farmers.

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