100 Birds Killed by Farmers: Game Commission

Officials believe starlings ate a toxic chemical farmers use to deter the grain eaters

By Teresa Masterson
|  Monday, Feb 28, 2011  |  Updated 9:09 PM EDT
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Nearly a hundred birds are discovered dead along Route 222 in <a title=Berks County. Officials say they were killed by poison." />

NBC Philadelphia

Nearly a hundred birds are discovered dead along Route 222 in Berks County. Officials say they were killed by poison.

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Officials believe a toxic chemical often used by farmers to kill European starlings caused the death of about 100 birds found strewn along Route 222 in Spring Township Sunday.

Starlicide is a legal avicide that is highly toxic to European starlings and gulls, but not to other birds or mammals. Some farmers use Starlicide when the grain-eating starlings are damaging their crops.

Spring Township Police took five of the starlings for testing and on Monday afternoon game commission officials told NBC Philadelphia that they believe the birds died from eating the toxic chemical in farmers' crops.

The massive bird kill was shocking to passersby who saw them scattered near the ramp from Route 724 onto Route 222. This happened only two months after 5,000 red-winged blackbirds inexplicably fell out of the sky on New Year’s Eve in northwest Arkansas.

Harry D. Brown, a certified animal control officer and executive director of the Berks County Animal Rescue League, told the Reading Eagle that it could not have been West Nile virus. It is very unlikely so many birds would be simultaneously killed by the virus, Brown said.

Dylan Heckart, development director at the Humane Society of Berks County Inc., offered the theory that the birds may have been blown into traffic by high winds, reports the Reading Eagle.

In addition to the 5,000 birds found in Arkansas New Year’s Eve, a massive fish kill also occurred about 125 miles west in an Arkansas river; 500 more dead birds were found in Louisiana, and at the same time hundreds of jackdaws fell from the sky in Sweden. 
 

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