\X'ASHl:\GTON. Ma r c h 19 - The U. Department of Agriculture has developed a procedure for allowing commercial quarantine facilities that import pet and zoological birds to relocate from one port city to another.
"The procedure also will be used whenever A PHIS is able to expand its inspection capabilities and approve new facilities," said John K. Atwell, deputy administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. "I consider it a workable and equitable method for selecting from among a number of qualified applicants in a specific port area."
Existing operators of privately owned, USDA-supervised bird quarantine stations will get priority in applying for space at a port city if one or more of their stations was closed for reasons beyond their control. Examples of such reasons are lack of government inspectors or termination of airline service at the original location.
If there are more applicants than openings, applicants will be selected by lottery. If all applicants can be accommodated and some want to operate more than one quarantine station, any remaining openings also will be assigned by lottery.
Atwell said that APHIS will make a
formal announcement in the Federal Register each time that one or more openings are available in a port area. Applicants will have 60 days ro register their interest. They need not actually own or have an option on an appropriate facility, but will have 18 months after being selected to get a facility ready for APHIS approval.
Some 86 privately owned commercial bird quarantine stations currently are approved and supervised by APHIS at 11 ports. They specialize in imported pet and zoological birds, which cannot be accommodated in federal animal control centers because of the numbers involved. The USDA centers handled about 7 ,000 birds in 1983 in contrast to 620,000 imported through the commercially operated stations. Pet birds need to be quarantined to assure they are not infected or carriers of poultry diseases. such as avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease, Atwell said.
The new procedure became effective April 16. It contains modifications suggested in response to a request for comm en ts on a draft of the procedure published Oct. 12, 1983. Reactions to the five comments received along with the final wording of the procedure were published in the March 15 Federal Register. •