Farm Show not for the birds this year

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Clucking, quacking and crowing: that’s usually what you hear in the East Hall of the Farm Show Complex. But this year is quieter. The rabbits replace the poultry.

Agriculture Department press secretary Brandi Hunter-Davenport says there’s a good reason the birds aren’t there: the avian flu has hit other parts of the country. Although there have been no reported cases in Pennsylvania, officials want to play it safe and keep the birds cooped up.

“It may not be a welcomed decision, but we have a $13 billion poultry industry here in the state with 55,000 jobs attached to it,” Hunter-Davenport said. “So, we really had to make sure we were doing everything possible to protect our poultry and to protect Pennsylvania from this virus.”

Even the folks from Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center had to leave the birds behind.

“That includes bird parts such as our raptor feathers, our raptor talons, even our live raptors that we have here every year,” Jon Kauffman said.

They brought reptiles and amphibians instead.

“I’m fine with that. It gives our birds a break, I guess, for a year. We’ve been doing this since 1993, so we’ve been here a lot,” Kauffman said. “It gives us an opportunity to learn about more reptiles and kind of focus on that. They’re just as important as birds.”

Most people we talked to aren’t too disappointed about the absence of birds.

“I understand that they don’t want the bird flu going around and getting it to the other animals,” said Gracie Rugg, who has chickens of her own.

Plus, there’s still so much to see, do, and eat.

“There’s a whole bunch of stuff that’s really cool. We went to the butterfly cave,” Rugg said.

Officials said they have yet to decide if the ban will continue to fairs and other competitions.

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