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Daily News Archive
From June 4, 2001

More Birds Dying from Pesticides and Other Toxics than West Nile Virus

On June 3, 2001, the Associated Press (AP) reported that in New York state from April 1, 2000 to March 31, 2001, more dead crows collected in response to West Nile virus died from exposure to pesticides and lead, than from West Nile virus. According to the AP, laboratory in the Five Rivers Environmental Center outside Albany identified 1,263 birds carrying West Nile Virus, and during the same time, 1,953 birds were identified as dying of exposure to toxics including pesticides like chlorpyrifos and diazinon. Other birds were identified as dying from lead poisoning, which often occurs when birds consume prey that ingested fishing sinkers or carrion killed by lead shot or pellets.

"There are all kinds of side benefits to the West Nile look," New York state wildlife pathologist Ward Stone told the AP. "West Nile isn't going to be growing in numbers, but these other numbers will continue to grow." Mr. Stone continued by explaining that many poisoning were due to exposure to home and lawn pesticides, while others may have been from toxics accumulating up the food chain.

The environmental group Audubon New York urges people to report all dead birds through a toll-free state number (866-537-2473) to keep tracking West Nile incidents as well as deaths from toxins. "If they're whacking birds, I think it's reasonable to assume they're doing a job on butterflies and others," Bill Cooke, director of government relations with Audubon New York told the AP. "What is it doing to our kids?"