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Daily News Archive
From July 30, 2002

Conservation Groups Prevent Use of Eagle-killing Pesticide

An important victory for wildlife and public health was won by a coalition of environmental groups, brought together by American Bird Conservancy (ABC). ABC reports, action from the coalition has prompted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revoke the authorization it had previously granted allowing use of the deadly pesticide carbofuran to control the rice water weevil in Louisiana, preventing the deaths of possibly thousands of birds.

Carbofuran is among the most highly toxic pesticides known to birds. A single granule is lethal, and more than fifty species, including Bald and Golden Eagle, Eastern Bluebird, Great Horned Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Kestrel, Northern Pintail, and Blue-winged Teal, have been documented as having died from carbofuran poisoning. The granular formulation of the pesticide was the most lethal to birds and was phased out from legal use beginning in 1991. EPA estimated that prior to cancellation of the granular formulation, up to two million birds were killed each year by carbofuran. In fact, no other substance listed under the EPA's Ecological Incident Investigation System has killed more birds.

Environmental groups were alarmed when they became aware that EPA was considering a "Section 18 - Emergency Use" application for the granular form of the pesticide on up to 100,000 acres of rice crops in Louisiana, and were outraged when EPA issued a permit allowing 10,000 acres to be dosed with the toxic substance without alerting FWS, the public, or conservation groups.

Environmentalists quickly mobilized, and together they convinced EPA to reduce the permit from 10,000 acres to 2,500 acres, and open a public comment period before any further use was considered.

More than 6,000 public comments subsequently resulted including a letter signed by 55 conservation groups. Beyond Pesticides, Agricultural Resources Center (ARC) and affiliated organizations submitted both a press release and public comments to EPA to aid in this endeavor. EPA officials were impressed by the response and in a letter to the groups cited "compelling feedback from the public" as one of the primary reasons the Louisiana permit was revoked.

For more information contact: Patti Bright, (540) 235-5780, pbright@abcbirds.org, or Gavin Shire, (202) 452-1535, gshire@abcbirds.org.