Birds Poisoned by USDA Litter New Jersey Town

European Starlings by the thousands, according to some reports, fell from the sky over one New Jersey community after being poisoned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Starlings are an introduced and well established species across the United States. Apparently, as non-native birds, they are not protected and can be considered, as in this case, pests. Starlings, and other black birds, congregate in huge flocks at this time of year and frequently descend in droves to lucrative feeding spots on farms and feed lots. Health and agriculture authorities say that is when the birds can contaminate and consume animal fodder. Other native blackbirds often congregate with the starling flocks and one would expect they would be victims of this culling as well. So far, the reports seem to be only about dead starlings. The Bergen Record reports:

Last night, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed the dead birds were part of a USDA program to reduce the European starling population. Donna Leusner said the state health department was not part of the culling program but had been notified of plans to feed the birds a “controlled substance.”

From the Associated Press via Fox News:

FRANKLIN, N.J. —  The black carcasses of dead starlings still pepper the snowy roads and lawns of central New Jersey’s rural Griggstown community three days after federal officials used a pesticide to kill as many as 5,000 of the birds.

Many residents Monday were still getting over their shock from the sudden spate of deaths. Some were unaware that the deaths resulted from an intentional culling and that the pesticide used was harmless to people and pets.

“It was raining birds,” said Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine. “It got people a little anxious.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture called local police last week and the Somerset County Health Department to warn them that a culling program was under way, but there was no notice that dead birds could fall from the sky, Levine said.

“A lot of us are concerned because it’s so odd,” said Chris Jiamboi, 49, as his vehicle idled along a stretch of road in Griggstown marked with the flattened remains of dead starlings. “There were a lot of them dead in the roads and no one drives fast enough around here to kill a bird. Then they started showing up dead in people’s backyards.”

All about European Starlings: (excerpt)

All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds released in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s. A group dedicated to introducing America to all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works set the birds free. Today, European Starlings range from Alaska to Florida and northern Mexico, and their population is estimated at over 200 million birds.

European Starling

European Starling

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2 Responses to “Birds Poisoned by USDA Litter New Jersey Town”

  1. lvn600 Says:

    So that’s what my wife was trying to tell me about.-I don’t watch or read the news much. She was really upset to hear that they were killing off birds even though she doesn’t care much for Starlings.

  2. zol1ann Says:

    The USDA is about to start this same disgusting and inhumane practice at our campus airport, the University Park Airport in State College, Pa, and we are disgusted.

    PETA has a petition circulating, and we are hopeful.

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