Quest can ship meat for drops

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2004

FAIRBANKS (AP) The Canadian government has given the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race permission to ship meat across the border.

The decision means that mushers can go forward with packing and sending food drop bags to the race checkpoints. The deadline for food drops in Jan. 23-24. Thirty-five teams are entered in the race to begin in Fairbanks on Feb. 14.

The agreement requires that Quest volunteers collect all leftover food at checkpoints along the roughly 1,000-mile route and return it to the originating country, said race manager Dave Rich. Usually, handlers clean up after their teams and cart off whatever is left behind.

''It's a small concession, that's for sure,'' Rich said.

All American pet food, regardless of type of meat, was banned from entering Canada on Dec. 24 after an animal with mad cow disease was found in a Washington herd.

After the Canadian Food Inspection Agency loosened restrictions more than a week ago, only beef was prohibited. But that's the staple food for Quest dogs, which burn around 10,000 calories a day along the trail.

Rich said the race permit was obtained through a childhood connection between a Quest veterinarian and the person who eventually issued the permit, and also channels established when race officials had to get the same clearance before the 2003 race due to a U.S. ban after foot-and-mouth disease broke out among livestock in Europe.

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