POULTRY farmer Alan “Swampy” Marsh is threatening to egg the Moyne Shire offices in Port Fairy and dump dead birds on the doorstep at noon today as part of an escalating dispute with the council.
Mr Marsh is angry because he claims council bylaws officers left a hole in the fence of his Mortlake brooder shed on September 2 which allowed dogs to enter and kill 940 of his chickens.
The council disputes his claim, with chief executive David Madden taking the unusual step of writing a letter to The Standard outlining the council’s position.
The shire maintains that its officers made a lawful entry onto Mr Marsh’s property after a complaint of cruelty from a member of the public.
It claims officers spoke with Mr Marsh at the property and offered to fix a gap in the fence where they had entered but they say Mr Marsh declined the offer.
Mr Marsh says this is a lie. He wants the council to apologise for the actions of the bylaws officers, fix the fence and pay him compensation.
“If they don’t want to come at that they can come up with 940 seven-week-old organically-reared pullets and we’ll call it square,” he said.
“If they replace the birds there will be no civil claim. They’ve already admitted they broke the fence when they entered and to say I knew about the fence is just a lie.”
The council says that during the visit, officers saw a number of dead chickens and subsequently referred the matter to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI). The department has told The Standard that it is not investigating the case.
Yesterday Mr Marsh said he had made complaints to police, the RSPCA, Parks Victoria and DEPI about the conduct of the bylaws officers. He said each authority was “running for cover” and had advised him it was a civil matter between him and the council.
“I wanted the RSPCA to look into whether there was a chance animal cruelty charges could be laid against the bylaws officers because they precipitated the situation where dogs got in and killed the 940 chooks,” Mr Marsh said.
“I haven’t got a big box of ratepayer money to take legal action, but I’ve got an endless supply of dead chooks and eggs. Tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon I will go to the Port Fairy council offices and show them what dead birds look like.”
Mr Marsh said if he was not allowed into the council offices he would egg the building.
“My four staff members who helped raise these dead birds will also be there to answer any questions from the media and television crews,” he said.
The poultry farmer also claimed the council was discrediting him by spreading rumours.
“They muddy the water and try to discredit you. I’m the guy that worked for five years on the Warrnambool penguin project and to try and protect the Portland shearwater colony,” he said.
“I offered to do the same with the Port Fairy mutton birds but the council said no. Losing the 940 birds is $10,000 down the tube and they would have generated a profit over the next two years of $60,000.”