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Federal Agency Kills Thousands of Birds with Pesticide

Thursday, January 29, 2009 by: Susanne Morrone, C.N.C.
Tags: pesticides, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) A series of articles have appeared daily from January 24 to the 27, 2009, in the Jersey Journal and Star-Ledger regarding the large numbers of dead birds falling from the sky alarming residents in Somerset County, New Jersey. The black carcasses of starling were strewn on cars, porches, lawns and snow-covered roadways. Many residents were unaware that the deaths of some 5,000 starlings were as a result of intentional culling.

Imagine going outside and counting 150 dead birds on your property. On January 24, 2009, New Jersey resident, Andrea Kepic, called the police to report this very situation. She was told she would have to clean up the birds. Police read from a prepared statement recommending using a shovel, gloves and plastic bags to get rid of them. She planned to freeze one or two and take them to Rutgers University for an autopsy. "You have to wonder, what are the ramifications, and are they telling the truth?" she said.

Spokeswoman for the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, Donna Leusner, confirmed the dead birds were part of a USDA program to reduce the European starling population. Although the state health department was not part of the culling program, they had been notified of plans to feed the birds a "controlled substance." Leusner also read from a USDA advisory which states "the dead birds pose no hazard to people or pets because the substance has been metabolized inside the bird."

USDA spokeswoman, Carol Bannerman, said a bird-specific pesticide called DRC-1339 was used. This pesticide is commonly used to protect farms and feedlot operations from European starlings, considered an invasive species by the USDA. The starlings were troubling an area farm where they were eating feed intended for cattle and chickens and defecating in feeding bowls. Federal employees dispensed the pesticide on Friday. Bannerman said, "Birds that ingest it usually die within three days, so the die-off should have ended by yesterday." She also said the poison is not specific to starlings, but USDA workers closely monitor its application to make sure it targets only the intended bird population. Workers lure the intended birds to a designated area with bait in wooden trays. Once they are certain the bait has attracted the birds they want to cull, they mix poison in the pellets.

On January 26, the USDA acknowledged making a few mistakes by not more fully warning people around the Princeton Township farm where it applied a pesticide on Friday to kill 3,000 to 5,000 starlings. While the pesticide was used in the past in densely populated New Jersey, the starlings moved far off Mercer County farm where they ingested it.

State agriculture and wildlife officials were notified two weeks prior along with Somerset County officials. But the Franklin Township`s administrator, Ken Daly, said "The township was told too little, too late. The only notice given was a second-hand phone call from the county health director that somewhere, sometime the USDA would be culling birds. No one knew what that meant. If we had known it was coming, we could have gotten word out to residents."


Jersey Journal, January 27, 2009 " N.J. community alarmed by dead birds"
Star-Ledger, January 26, 2009 "Dead Birds by the hundreds but few answers"
January 27, 2009 "Feds apologize but insist birds had to be poisoned"

About the author

Susanne Morrone, C.N.C., is an author, speaker and natural health educator. Her book, "The Best Little Health Book Ever," is the quintessential natural health primer. She is also included in "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Health" by Selfgrowth.com. Her mission and educational outreach is found at www.naturalhealthchat.com.

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