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Birds died as result of federal eradication

Feb 11, 2011 6:32 am
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200" caption="European starlings were introduced into the United States in the 1800s and are considered an exotic, invasive species because they compete with indigenous bird species for food and shelter. The USDA kills about 100,000 of them a year when asked to by farmers."][/caption]The Daily Freeman has a story about birds falling out of the sky in the Columbia County Town of Kinderhook... and the startling discovery that the birds, all European starlings, were killed as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to eradicate bird flocks that threaten dairy farms. According to Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, birds in such cases are fed a pesticide-laced bird seed and die within the confines of the farm or in other open-space areas. “In this case, it does appear this dairy was in relative close proximity to a small town,” Bannerman said. “It appears some of the birds did go into that town, settled into the trees there and died.” Bannerman added that European starlings are a serious threat to dairy farmers because they can devour large amounts of seed put out for the cattle, and noted that her department had determined about 2,500 starlings had descended on a dairy farm in the Kinderhook area this winter when they were called in. She declined to identify the farm. In addition to eating seed meant for the cattle, she said, the birds leave behind large amounts of excrement that can carry diseases, including salmonella, that can be passed on to the cattle. The pesticide approved for eradication is approved by the FDA and paid for by farmers who seek its application. Once the birds have eaten the pesticide-laced seed, she said, it takes about three hours to three days for them to die. “We regret any sort of concern that some people may have experienced,” the federal official said, adding that the resultant bird carcasses pose no threat to animals that might feed or come in contact with the bodies.