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B.C. makes livestock location tracking program mandatory ahead of wildfire season

Premise identification means better emergency responses to fires and floods says ministry
A cow crosses a road in Green Lake, B.C., which is under an evacuation order due to a wildfire burning nearby, on Sunday, July 30, 2017. There are currently 151 wildfires burning and according to the B.C. Wildfire service more than 4,200 square kilometres have burned since April 1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to visit areas affected by wildfires Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The province is expanding its livestock location tracking program to streamline aid to animals in need during emergencies and natural disasters, such as wildfires and floods.

Announced Wednesday (June 1), the ministry of agriculture will require all livestock owners in B.C. to register their animals’ location in the Premises Identification (Premises ID) program by July 1.

This program will now include animals from honeybees to llamas and rabbits.

The move comes after the 2021 wildfires and floods proved how invaluable it was to have a database of locations for animals like dairy cattle, said Jeremy Dunn, the general manager of B.C. Dairy. All supply-managed livestock, such as dairy cattle and poultry, were required to be registered with Premises ID as of 2017, as part of the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s ProAction initiative.

“In an emergency it allows you to exactly know who the farmers are, where they are located, and the livestock that they have on their farm, so that timely information can be made available to everyone,” he told Black Press Media.

The ministry said Premises ID can support emergency responses by providing faster alerts to farmers and can help emergency responders identify where animals are requiring relocation, food and water during a natural disaster or event.

In 2021, approximately 64 per cent of livestock owners had registered their animals’ location with the optional Premises ID program.

The Premises ID program is part of the province’s three-pillared livestock tracing system. The other two pillars are movement tracing and animal identification.

“The [Premises ID] program has been very effective in helping first responders, livestock owners and communities respond to animal disease events and natural disasters, such as the wildfires and flooding we’ve seen over the past year,” Agricultural Minister Lana Popham said in a statement.

Registration is free and can be completed through the province’s online portal. Alternatively, livestock owners can register by mailing a paper application to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

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About the Author: Morgana Adby, Local Journalism Initiative

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