USDA Admits Involvement in South Dakota Mass Bird Deaths
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Starling killed by USDA in Yankton, South Dakota (photo: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has assumed responsibility for the deaths of more than 300 birds in Yankton, South Dakota. But the USDA insists it had nothing to do with other mass die-offs of birds recently in Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky.
The South Dakota killings were a result of the department’s Wildlife Services Program, which used DRC-1339 to poison a feedlot in Nebraska, across the state border from Yankton. The feedlot owners had complained that starlings were eating their feed and defecating in inappropriate areas.
Starlings were introduced into the United States in 1890 by Eugene Schiffelin, who imported them from England and released them in New York’s Central Park.
Since the 1960s, the government has eradicated large numbers of birds under its Bye Bye Blackbird operation, which has involved multiple species. In FY 2009 alone, the program killed more than 4 million birds and animals, including 1,259,714 starlings, 1,046,109 cowbirds and 969,889 red-winged blackbirds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Department of the Interior, also has killed blackbirds, grackles and starlings for public health or economic reasons.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Bye Bye Blackbird: USDA Acknowledges a Hand in One Mass Bird Death (by Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor)
Bird Deaths Linked To Poison (by Nathan Johnson, Yankton Press & Dakotan)
Table G. Animals Taken by Wildlife Services - FY 2009 (U.S. Department of Agriculture) (pdf)
17 Things that Fell from the Sky (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Wildlife “Services” Spent $100 Million Killing Animals (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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