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Group won’t appeal poultry pollution case

ANNAPOLIS — A New York-based environmental group that sued Perdue Farms and an Eastern Shore contract grower said Wednesday it won’t appeal a federal judge’s ruling in an alleged poultry pollution case.

The Waterkeeper Alliance said in a statement that while the group believes it presented compelling evidence, it won’t appeal U.S. District Judge William Nickerson’s ruling last month in a case that had broad implications for the state’s poultry industry.

“Given the high burden appellate courts impose for reversing a district court’s findings of fact, Waterkeeper Alliance will not appeal Judge Nickerson’s decision,” the group said in a statement.

State Sen. Richard Colburn, R-Dorchester, said he was pleased the legal matter was over.

“To have pursued an appeal of Judge Nickerson’s ruling would have only further harmed a family farm already cleared of wrongdoing and would further undermine future cooperation between agriculture and responsible environmental groups,” Colburn said in a statement.

Waterkeeper alleged that chicken litter was being discharged from the Hudson Farm in Berlin into a tributary of the Pocomoke River. The federal lawsuit was filed in 2010, after representatives from Waterkeeper flew over the farm and identified what they initially believed to be a large uncovered pile of chicken manure. The piles were eventually found not to be chicken manure.

Lawyers for Perdue, which owned the chickens, and the Hudson family said chicken manure wasn’t getting out in great enough amounts to pollute, and farmer Alan Hudson testified that he took steps to avoid pollution and to keep the manure in chicken houses.

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