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From February 16, 2005

EPA Busts Local Farm For Using Pesticides To Kill Birds
(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2005) Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the guilty pleas of owner, Roger F. Kahn and farm manager, Glen M. Bramlett of Kahn Cattle Company of Bartow County, Georgia for unlawfully killing 3, 326 migratory birds with pesticides in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

According to EPA, Kahn and Bramlett spread corn laced with a chemical known as Warbex around a Company pond around this time last year with the intention of killing “nuisance” birds. Warbex is typically applied to cattle to control lice and grubs and contains famphur, a highly toxic organophosphate insecticide toxic to birds, fish and beneficial insects.

Federal and state agents collected the dead birds, which included a great horned owl, red-tailed hawks, mourning doves, Canada geese, a mallard duck, a cardinal, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, a brown thrasher, grackles, crows and cowbirds.

Such misuse of pesticides is not uncommon. Cuts in state and federal EPA budgets mean that states will have even less resources devoted to regulation. Just as disturbing is the fact that even when pesticides are used properly, the results can still be deadly to wildlife (as well as human health). In addition to the non-target kills in the agricultural use of pesticides that often wipe out colonies of bees, butterflies, birds, fish and other important species, pets and wildlife are also killed in urban and suburban areas by eating pesticides placed outside buildings to kill other targets such as rodents, for example.

There is currently no coordinated effort to keep track of mass bird and other wildlife kills from pesticides used in violation of the label, and even less tracking of kills from pesticides used according to the label. A call to the local or regional EPA office with evidence of harmful wildlife affects of pesticides without a clear violation of the pesticide label would not typically be sufficient to prompt an investigation. When mass kills are found, sometimes wildlife organizations will be moved to pressure or sue the EPA to remove the use from the market. Pressure on the Agency to protect birds from carbofuran or the recent lawsuit against fenthion are some examples.

The Kahn Cattle Company case was investigated by the EPA Atlanta Office, US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and is currently being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta.

To contact an environmental organization in your area and ask if they are considering the effects of pesticides on the local wildlife, see Beyond Pesticides State pages.