IFAW: Immediate action warranted for animals inside Fukushima evacuation zone

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Yarmouth Port, Mass
A comprehensive document detailing response procedures and protocols to safely monitor, evacuate and treat animals contaminated by radiation has been presented to sectors of the Japanese government today. The document is the result of an International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) led summit that convened subject matter experts in Tokyo earlier this month to discuss the impact on animals left inside the 20k evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The Committee was formed by representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): APHIS Animal Care and Wildlife Services, United States Army Veterinary Corps, veterinary and toxicology experts from the U.S. and Japan, academicians, and IFAW. The Japanese Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) participated in the summit as observers.

“The Committee strongly feels that animal rescue work should continue inside the 20km zone,” said Dr. Dick Green, IFAW Manager for Disasters. “Recommendations have been provided to ensure human and animal safety and the Committee feels that as long as these safety protocols are followed, well-trained and equipped rescue teams should be allowed to continue to remove animals from the restricted zone”.

During the summit, small working groups were formed to address different risks to companion animals, livestock and wildlife.

The Committee identified and formulated counsel on the rescue, decontamination, transport and sheltering of cats and dogs. The experts strongly advised to commence every possible effort to keep people and their animals together.  

The Committee reviewed existing protocols from MAFF to address livestock in the evacuation zone. Recommendations were provided to support the ongoing surveying of animals in the restricted zones and to ensure the rapid movement of viable animals out of the affected areas. Proposals were set forth to rescue, move or humanely euthanize farm animals.

The Committee also made short and long-term recommendations to ensure that wildlife and biodiversity are fully integrated into emergency plans. Experts suggested taking urgent steps to initiate sampling of wildlife in order to monitor changes in accumulation of radioactive substances and to secure samples of seasonally migratory species.

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