|February 6, 1995. Vol.
10, No. 30
Birds of a feather
found dead together
By James Laughlin
break, approximately 14 birds and two cats were found dead or dying on
Campus. Many of the birds exhibited a loss of flight, dizziness and a slow
It is legal
for a professional to poison pigeons, starlings, and sparrows (though no
other birds can be exterminated) who may be a nuisance. Poisons such as
Starlicide, made by Purina, and a cracked corn feed called Avitrol
are among the more common chemicals used in bird control.
On the afternoon
of Jan. 18, this reporter found a crow on the grassy area just south of
the High-Tech Center Annex, exhibiting the same symptoms as the pigeons.
The crow was transported to Cortez Animal Hospital. After being observed
by a veterinarian, a determination was made that the probable cause of
the bird's symptoms was a poison.
Saguaro Ranch Park, "Olive Tree" or "Cimmaron Terrace" apartment complexes,
all within a one-block radius of the campus, have reported any similar
dead bird discoveries within he last 30 days.
Christmas holiday break, Jon Olivas, a Campus employee who works in the
copy center, saw numerous dead or dying birds. "When we came back to work
the Tuesday after Christmas, I saw at least five or six dead birds lying
around the campus. Then, for at least a week after that, every day I'd
see one or two flopping around." Olivas said that all of the birds were
pigeons, and that they all exhibited exactly the same symptoms, which
included convulsions, tremors, excessive salivation, and ultimately, death.
Quoth the pigeon
of campus security said that they had received several comments from people
about dead or dying birds at GCC.
mass bird deaths on campus would not appear to be a security issue, Hagar
too was curious and a referral was made to the GCC campus maintenance office.
been involved in a program of trying to reduce the number or pigeons on
the campus," said Dr. John Waltrip, president of GCC. "They've tried several
different things. The last thing they (maintenance) were using was a licensed
director of buildings and grounds, denied any knowledge of possible bird
poisoning on campus. However, when asked for an official response on behalf
of the campus, he declined. When asked what methods the campus uses to
control insects or other unwanted pests, he said that this job "was contracted
out to a private company," and again refused to divulge further information.
said that Bruemmer has tried several different things to control the bird
population on campus, but "nothing has been very successful." Finally,
he contracted out through a company who does that professionally."
an official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement agency, said
that "It is in violation of federal law to use any chemical that could
pose a threat to wildlife without the expressed written consent of his
office.'' After a brief check of his records, he said that his office had
no record of having received an application to use such measures.
isn't aware of any application to use poison to control the bird population.
heard of anything like that so obviously we wouldn't go ask for it if we
didn't know about it," President Waltrip said. "When you use a licensed
contractor you would assume they'd be aware of any permits that would have
to be attained."
Roth, a local activist who led the fight to stop Maricopa County from using
poison to control pigeons at the Madison Street Jail in Phoenix, said that
"Despite laws designed to control it's use, they are largely ineffective.
In the past, the city of Glendale used Avitrol to control pigeons,and denied
doing it. "When proof was found to the contrary, the city parks and recreation
department claimed that this was done without the permission of city management,
and attributed the poisoning to an individual taking matters into their
own hands," Roth said.
led a successful campaign to prevent the county from using lethal means
to deter pigeons from roosting on top of the country jail in downtown Phoenix.
His level of expertise earned Roth the recognition by various state animal
control agencies as a valuable consultant in methods of dealing with unwanted
birds. Additionally, he has founded a non-profit organization called "The
Urban Wildlife Society." They are confronting the issue of bird control
though it is a legal practice to control birds this way, Roth has secured
a promise from Maricopa County officials that they would not utilize any
form of lethal control of birds at any county facility without first consulting
his organization. "The Urban Wildlife Society" under the direction of David
Roth has devoted much time in advising Maricopa County on methods of controlling
birds in environmentally safe ways.
In the meantime,
any person on campus should avoid leaving food or other garbage in any
place other than a proper trash receptacle. Also, you should obey all campus
regulations concerning pets, and never allow your dog or cat to roam freely.
If you discover a bird that you believe may have been poisoned, you
can contact "The Urban Wildlife Society" in Phoenix at 265-4320.