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No charges against Butterfield Foods for thousands of chickens that froze to death

The Watonwan County Attorney will not press charges against Butterfield Foods after an animal rights group pushed for consequences after thousands of birds froze to death outside the plant in winter.

Stephen Lindee says there is insufficient information and evidence to pursue criminal charges.

Lindee says he will decline prosecution for a number of reasons.  Lindee says any potential witness or suspects have not been identified, and there’s no clear indication that the birds died because of negligent or intentional acts.  There’s also no specification as to who would have committed such acts.

Lindee also cited an inspection report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which said a Butterfield Foods employee had communicated with the Ohio supplier about closing the truck vents for future chicken shipments.  The report also cited that “the establishment” – presumably Butterfield Foods, says  Lindee – would discontinue using the supplier if the issue was not remedied by closing the vents.

“In sum, there is insufficient information and evidence to pursue criminal charges,” Lindee’s news release states.

Lindee said his decision does not discount the concerning circumstance of thousands of chickens freezing to death.  “It simply reflects an analysis of the evidence provided,” he said.

Animal rights activists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote Lindee last week, urging him to file criminal charges against Butterfield Foods after the hens died overnight while sitting in a trailer in an unprotected shed in subzero temperatures.  More than 9,000 birds were discovered deceased, some that were frozen solid.

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