Only 10 of 210 backyard birds targeted are handed over A government attempt to destroy all backyard chickens reared in Shataukok met with little success yesterday, exposing a loophole through which H5N1 bird flu could continue to spread among poultry kept near the border. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department called on backyard farmers in 26 villages within a 5 sq km quarantine area of Yuen Tuen Shan village to hand in their poultry voluntarily. On Wednesday, H5N1 was detected in preliminary tests on a chicken brought from the mainland on January 26 to a family in Yuen Tuen Shan. The chicken fell ill on Tuesday and died. Yesterday, only 10 out of the 210 chickens targeted in the operation were collected. While the voluntary calls for surrender proved barely effective, Democratic Party legislator Fred Li Wah-ming, chairman of the Legislative Council's food safety panel, said the government would fast-track a legislative amendment requiring licences for people keeping any number of chickens. The amendment would be presented to the special panel meeting on Tuesday, Mr Li said. 'The problem is these backyard farms can raise poultry without any licence. The government can do nothing and cannot even confiscate [poultry]. The villagers are resisting the call to surrender them voluntarily. Maybe they prefer to eat their own chicken,' he said. Mr Li and other Democratic Party members will today meet Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok to raise their concerns over the role of backyard farming in the spread of bird flu. The plan to regulate backyard farms was announced last November, but it has gained urgency in the past two weeks. In Man Uk Pin, 5km from Yuen Tuen Shan and 1.4km from Sheung Wo Hang Tsuen, where an oriental magpie robin was discovered last Friday and later found to be infected with H5N1, chickens were running free yesterday and some were being kept near other birds. Lee Lap, 66, who was keeping 29 chickens, 20 pigeons and three ducks very close to each another, refused to listen to government advice to hand in his chickens, even though his son had signed a consent form. 'Asking me to give up my chickens is like asking me to give up my sons,' he said. 'I paid for their food and raised them. Of course, I won't let the government take them away without any compensation. 'Even if the government is paying me only $1 for one chicken, I can get $1 at least for each one I have raised.' But Mr Lee's chicken flock was confiscated yesterday after he was found to have violated the law stating that farmers keeping more than 20 chickens must apply for a licence. Wong Yung-kan, the legislator representing the agriculture and fisheries sector, said the government should focus on tackling smuggled poultry through Shataukok as it was an obvious source for H5N1 bird flu affecting Hong Kong poultry.