Lawmakers want probe of bird kill

January 29, 2009 5:39:45 PM PST
Two New Jersey congressmen are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate a bird culling program that alarmed residents of a central New Jersey community who found their lawns littered with dead starlings last weekend. U.S. Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone Jr., who represent constituents affected by the incident, say they hope procedures will be developed to ensure that nothing similar happens again.

USDA workers spread poison last week on a farm in the Griggstown section of Franklin Township, Somerset County, to rid it of a flock of an estimated 5,000 starlings. The birds were contaminating animal feed with their droppings, posing a disease threat to the livestock.

Although the USDA says it notified the county health department and police about the plan to kill the birds, residents say they got no advance warning.

In response to an earlier query from U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Bill Clay, the USDA's deputy administrator for Wildlife Services, said his agency will review its communication procedures to ensure there is sufficient notification in the future.


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