January 12, 2017
Dear Senators Warren, Markey and Representative Neal:
At first blush, it looked like a story of biblical proportions. On January 10, 2017, WesternMassNews.com reported a story of dozens of dead birds dropping from the sky. It was related to the poisoning of European starling birds in several Western Massachusetts communities by the United States Department of Agriculture. I have attached a copy of the story for your review. Per the story, a USDA spokesman confirmed the use of a pesticide poison known as DRC-1339 on the local starling bird population and Agawam was listed as one of the communities where the pesticide was used.
The pesticide poisoning of the birds surprised all of us. It appears that notification by email was made to Board of Health agents on the same day the pesticide was administered from a Timothy S. Cozine, Staff Wildlife Biologist, USDA, Wildlife Services. Agawam's Health Agent was away at the time and no one else in Town was aware of the pesticide application. Concerned citizens from the Town of Agawam were seeking more information and we had nothing to provide. Even with the email, the information is very sparse with no details of how the pesticide was spread, in what quantity, and what impact to other species in the region.
The public and municipal officials deserve notice, education and infonnation on the dissemination of any pesticides to have a full understand of its purpose AND what the consequences are to the environment. It is unclear how much of the pesticide was used, how it was applied, when it was applied, and what possible impacts it may have to other species. It is unclear what the policy is for notice and infonnation with pesticide applications by the USDA. But at a bare minimum, communities should be notified thirty (30) days in advance and brought into the discussion before pesticides are emitted into the environment.
On behalf of all the citizens of Agawam, please accept this letter as the objection of pesticides being applied without proper education and notice or input to communities directly impacted and a request that your office compels the USDA to be more open and engaged with the Town of Agawam and others. USDA regulations should require at least thirty (30) days of notice and give communities a voice in any pesticide application. Moreover, detailed infonnation should also be provided for the communities to have a full perspective of the reasoning, the scope, and the impact of the use of pesticides by the federal government.
Richard A Cohen, Mayor
CC: State Senator Donald Humason
State Representative Nicholas Boldyga
James Cichetti, Council President
MSPCA speaks on controlled poisoning of starlings in West Springfield
Pt>&t8d: Jan 11.2017 P:.U PM EST Updated: Jan 11.2017 P:.U PM EST
By JellCtamer CONNECT By Jamie Lealie
\NEST SPRINGFIELD MA (W3GBIVIISHM) • Dozens of dead birds dropping from trees in West
' Springfield have left people concerned,especially alter finding out ltie birds have bee11 poisoned.
Tonight, we spoke to the Massachusens Sodety for the PreventiOn of Cruelty to Animals about why this is happening endwhy people werent,old about it.
A homeowner reached out to us about finding dead birds on his lawn and near his truck.
We learned the state was doing a controUed polsonlng for CNer population concems,but since that
stOtY aired,many were wondering why they weren't told about it first.
Jim MiroiH was working onhis truck when hecame across severaldead birds.
He wondered why1hey had fallenfrom the tree inhis yard,onto his lawn and truck.
"Ihad no idee what was going on.It was a lit1Je frightening seeing birds falUng out of lhe tree," he said.
Western Mass News dlscovered that the bilds, which were starlings,had been poisoned as pan of
a controlled poison for overpopulation concerns.
The USDA told us theagency used a peslidde poiSOn for European starlings In towns like
Belchertown, Agawam,Hampden end a farm inElnngton,Connecticut.
Richard Bell,a spokesperson, told us tnat an overabundance of starlings can lead to
norse,en increase rlsl< of disease,and risks to air traffic safety.
A spokesperson from the MSPCA told us:
it "Onesagsin,USDA Wlld6ll9Services has pdolitized t/18 broad-bB$8d Jrlllingof wRdlife ovrr humane solutionsIDhUITIBn-wildlife conlflcJs. Un!Dtrunstely. Wildlife SfNVicas hasagain done so without notic9 or inpllt from rssldenls or the localCtJillmunity. HIJfTIIJM solullons
exist to sddtess conflicts with wildlife and the MSPC\ encourages individuals snd our
federal andstate govtJ/T1f1lefiiS toprforiliz8 those options 01181'indiscriminate k/Hing.•"
Many people also askedif the poison Is dangerous for humans.
The spokespen;on fOr theUSDA IOid us that the type of chemicalis specific to the starling bird populatlon and Is not harmful to other birds,animals, or humans.
Bell also saidIf a cat was feeding on an infected bird,It would not get sick unless it was feeding fOr severalmonths.
We also called Mass Audubon,the wildlife agency,who had no commem regarding this stofy.
The USDA said they had someone come to West Springfield today end pick up those dead birds. But they are urging peopleIf they have any questions to contact them directly at (413) 253-24031
Copyright 2017 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights rese!Yed.
Dead birds dropping from a tree in West Springfield causes community unrest Po&red: Jan 10, 2017 9:26PM EST
Upd8red: Jan 10, 2017 10:56 PM EST
By Seena Sleem CONNECT
By Jamie Leslie CONNECT
WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (INGGBJWSHM) - Dozens of dead birds dropping from trees in West Springfield have been a cause for concern to residents,especially after finding out the birds have been poisoned.
Western Mass News spoke exclusively with one homeowner.
The homeowner, Jim Mirolli told us he found the dead birds yesterday. The birds had fallen from a tree and onto his truck and lawn.
The state has confinned they were doing controlled poisoning of starlings due to over
population, and now those living on this block said they're worried, especially after having touched the birds.
Jim Mirolli told us that he was working on his truck around 3 p.m. Monday afternoon when he saw a few birds drop out of a tree.
He said he's never seen anything like it.
Mirollithought the birds may be alive but sick.so he picked them up and brought them inside his house.
'I had no idea what was going on. It was a little frightening seeing birds falling out of the tree.·
The United States Department of Agriculture told Western Mass News that they used applications of DRC-1339, a pesticide poison, for European starling controlin Belchertown, Agawam,Hampden, and a fann in Ellington, Connecticut.
Spokesperson Richard Bell said that an overabundance of starlings can lead to excessive noise,an increase risk of disease.and risks to air traffic safety.
"Now finding out they've been poisoned, I'm concerned if it's going to transfer on in other ways.People maybe.Imean,I was handilng these birds thinking I'm saving them.Am Igoing to get that poison on me? You know,Ihad them in my house.Are my children going to get sick?'
Bell said that the type of chemicalused is specific to the starling bird population and is not harmfulto other birds,animals,or to humans.
He adds that cats would need to feed only on the birds for severalmonths to be affected.
Any dead birdcan be picked up and thrown in the trash.USDA's wildlife service recommends using disposable gloves or plastic bags to pick up any dead wildlife.
USDA also said that they will have someone tomorrow swinging by West Springfield to pick up the dead birds.
Should any concerns from the public arise, feel free to contact WS directly or USDAMIS' at (413) 253-24031(866) 487-3297.
·. DRC-1339 ( loro-4-methy1behzenamine HCI,Chemical Abstract Service Reg. No.7745-89-3) is a slow-acting avitide that is registei"ed with the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fOi' the
controlof severalspecies of pest birds,Including
blackbirds, starlings,pigeons,crows, ravens,
magpieS,and gulls.T chnlcal DRC-1339 (Starlicide Technical,EPA Reg. No.602-134) contalr:s 97 percent DRC-1339. rliclde produc;:ts ·and DRC-
1339 were developed jointly by Ralston Purina, Inc., Purina Mills, Inc.,and the NationalWildlife Research Center(NWRC) ofthe U.S.Department of · ·
Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health lns ctioil Service (APHIS). Registrations are maintained by PM Resources, Inc., Earth City·Resources,· and APHIS.
APHISIWS currently has the following DRC-
1339 products registered with EPA to resolve bird problems that cannot be solved by the use of the·
commercially available Starlicide Complete (EPA Reg. No602-136) [See table].·
The use of all APHISIWS DRC-1339 registrations· is restricted to.Certified Applicators and WS personnel trained in bii"d eantrol(or persons
under their direct, onsite supervision).AII.APHISIWS ORC-1339 products are prepared from StarliCide
moderately toxic to many nonsensitive birds,.most predatory birds, and most mammals (LD80's range from 100 to 1,000 mglkg).Some species,
including waterfOwl alid gallinaceous birds, are · intermediate In sensitivity to DRC-1339 (L050 s. range from 10 to 100.rnglkg).. Most bird'species that are sometimes pests, including starlings, pigeons, blackbirds, crows,and magpies, are sensitive to DRG-1339.Many other bird species, such as raptors and some small granivores are classified as. nons nsitive.Known exceptions are owl.and felines, with LD 80's of about 5 mg/kg
placing them in the sensitive category.
Mode of Action
The mode of action of DRC-339 In sensitive birds Is irreversible kidney and heart damage: a quiet and apparently painless death
normally occurs 1-3 days following ingestion..In nonsensitive species, the mode of action is quite different, and the process requires.10-100 times more DRC-1.339.In these species, the central nervous system is depressed, resulting in cardiac
·Product eglstared Uses
Compound DRC-1339 ·For controlling blackbirds Concentrate-Feedlots and starlings In livestock (EPA RegN: o. 56228-10) · feedlots.
Technical. · ·
A number of APHISJWS State Special local Need (Section 24[c]) registrations also are available to solve local problems,such as blackbirds in sunflowers,blackbirds il1·nce, and grackles in citrus.
Acute To;x:icitY to Birds and Mammals
DRC-1339 was developed as an avicide
because of its differential toxicity to animals.
More acute avian toxicity data are available for ORC-
1339 than for any other pesticide used i-:t the world:
more than 40 species.have been tested.DRC-1339 is highly toxic to most sensitive bird species (LD80's range from·1 to 10 mglkg), allowing a toxic dose to be placed on a single bait But it is only slightly to
1339 Gull Toxicant 98% Concentrate
(EPA Reg.No. 56228-17)
(EPA Reg. No.56228-28)
(EPA Reg.No. 56228-29)
'(EPA Reg.No. 56228-30)
For controlling gulls to protect colonial nesting seabirds.
For controlling pigeons in and around Structures
For controlling coNids (e.g.,ravens) depredating on newborn livestock, threatened or endangered species, or other species
needing special protection..
For controlling birds in staging areas associated with roosts.
or respiratory arrest: a quiet death usually occurs after 2-10 hours. The kidney and heart damage that occurs in sensitive birds that ingest DRC-1339 is irreversible; however, the centralnervous system depression resulting from ingestion of DRC-1339 in nonsensitive mammals and raptors can be successfully treated symptomatically.
DRC-1339 is metabolized and excreted from
all animals very quickly. with 90 percent or more of the com::>ound lost within 2 hours. Aost metabolites are much less toxic than DRC-1339. DRC-1339 is not accumulated in the body. thus the compound's
residues generally range from 0 to less than 0.1 ppm when death occurs.
Potential Primary Hazards
Repeated exposure to DRC-1339 in feed can result in the poisoning of sensitive species. The concentration of DRC-1339 in feed that IS lethalto
50 percent of treated starlings (LC •• ) is 4.7 ppm after
30 days of exposure and 1.0 ppm after 90 days exposure.For bobwhite quail, the LC:.;concentration in feed is 14.1ppm. and for spe>cies of intermediate sensitivity such as mallard ducks the 5-day LC·,., is
322 ppm. DRC-1339 does not appear to affect avian
reproduction except at levels very c:ose to where toxicity is expressed.
Numerous stud1es conducted by NWRC and WS Operations how that DRC-1339 poses a small risk of primary poisoning to most nontarget species. The primary hazards to no'1target birds are generally site specific and can be controlled by selecting a bait and bait sites that are not used by nontarget birfjs. The risk to nontaiget birds can be further mitigated
by careful prebaiting and observation prior to bait application. The nsl< of prima,y po1soning to most mammals is extremely low because of the low revel of toxicity of DRC-1339 to most mammals the baits that are used, bait dilution factors and minimal treatment rates.Birds and mammals that may be at risk are identified in the WS Technical Notes prepared for specit1c DRC-1339 end-use prociucts.
NWRC and WS Operations have been
monitoring the use of all DRC1339 products since
1968. There have been no documented secondary po1sonings of mammalian or avian scavengers and predators with DRC-1339, except for a crow that may have scavenged the gut contents of a recently treated pigeon. NWRC has conducted long-term feeding studies where birds poisoned by DRC-1339 were collected and fed to raptors and scavenger mammals for 30 to more than 200 days. No symptoms of poisoning or mortalities occurred.
Specialprecautions may be warranted when
using DRC-1339 where owls and cats may be exposed to poisoned birds. Although it is possible that a cat or owl could ingest a lethal dose of
DRC-1339 if fed birds poisoned by the compound
exclusively for more than 100 days, the actual risk
is normally minimal because exposure to DRC-
1339-polsoned birds occurs over a few weeks or less. To reduce any potential hazard, poisoned birds should be retrieved. then burned or buried, whenever possible.
Toxicity and Stability in the
DRC-1339 is generally unstable in the environment and degrades rapidly \'Jhen exposed to sunlight and hest or ultraviolet radiation. DRC-
1339 is highly soluble in water but does not hydrolyze. Photodegradation occurs in water with a half-rife that rangos from 6.5 to 41 hours, depending upon the season (faster in summer. slower in·;.,inter). DRC-133E is very tightly bound to soil (70-90 percont) and has low mobility. The half-life of DRC-1339 in biologically active soil is about 25 hours. and identified metabolites have low toxicity. These data indicate that DRC-1339
degrades rapidly in soils, does not persist r:nd will
not migrate. The 96-hour LC.of DRC-133!:1 to bluegill sunfish is 11 ppm; to rainbO\'J trout. 9.7 ppm; <"\nd to water fleas. O.Oi 9 pprr., mdicating thai DRC 1339 is only moderately toxic to fish but ihat some invertebrates may be very sensitive to thP compound.
Sources of Information
Additional information on tnis product can be found in tile Apnl1994 ADC Hnal Envi ronmental! pact Statement (Appendix P), in Material Safety Data Sheets supplied by the Pocatello Supply Depot, and in the 1995
Handbook on Prevention and Control of VVtiG:ife
Damage. Specific information on this product can be obtained through the Nat1onal Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) !970-266-6000) or through the NWRC web site
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/nwrc. F-or further
information about the availability of this product, contact your WS State Director, or the Pocatello Supply Depot.