Dead birds were killed on purpose

January 26, 2009 3:02:53 PM PST
Hundreds of dead birds fell onto homes and cars in parts of a Somerset County town this weekend. Andrea Kipec, who lives in the southern part of Franklin Township, told the Courier News of Bridgewater that she counted more than 150 dead birds on her property. And she said local officials told her that she had to clean them up.

Kipec and other area residents said police told them about an e-mail from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that discussed a program to poison blackbirds and starlings, but they were unaware of specific details.

However, Donna Leusner - a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services - said Sunday night that the dead birds were part of a USDA program to reduce the European starling population.

Leusner told The Star-Ledger of Newark that her department wasn't part of the culling program, but said it had been told of plans to feed the birds a "controlled substance." She could not say where they were poisoned or what was used to kill them.

"The dead birds pose no hazard to people or pets because the substance has been metabolized inside the bird," Leusner said, citing information in a USDA advisory.

The birds ate the poison and 24 hours later they fell from the sky. The starlings and black birds have been a nusiance at area farms where they flock by the hundreds, eating seeds, contaminating grain and leaving behind a load of bird droppings.

Franklin township residents have been cleaning up the birds on their own.


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