Report suggests poison to control birds at OLF site

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 2, 2007

By Staff
Would not be used on waterfowl, biologist says
By NIKIE MAYO, News Editor
Poison might be used to eradicate some birds around the Navy’s proposed outlying landing field site here.
That sentence is under the standard-techniques section of the conceptual bird-wildlife aircraft strike hazard — or BASH — plan. The plan then names two toxins — Avitrol and DRC-1339 — that could be considered.
But a biologist with the United States Department of Agriculture said Thursday it’s “highly unlikely” the substances would be used at Site C, the Navy’s proposed pilot-practice pad on the border of Washington and Beaufort counties. If toxins were used, they would not be used on waterfowl, but on other birds in the area, USDA wildlife biologist Michael Begier said Thursday.
USDA prepared the report as a supporting document to go along with the Navy’s supplemental study that details the impacts of an OLF in the region. That supplemental study was released last week.
Such toxins as those cited are “used occasionally to control the gull population. … But there are other ways to look at first,” Begier said.
The toxin Avitrol is a restricted-use chemical, said Gaylon Ambrose, Beaufort County’s agriculture extension agent.
Avitrol would be a repellent for crows and pigeons, Ambrose said.
The other toxin, DRC-1339, is also restricted to USDA usage.
The toxins might also be used on “exotic species” such as European starlings Begier said.
They are used on an “as-needed” basis, according to the conceptual BASH. But there is no hard-and-fast rule to define the number of birds that must be present in order for lethal toxins to come into play, according to Begier.
Habitat controls such as which crops are planted where should help redirect the birds, according to the Navy.
Still, the idea of using toxins at all didn’t sit well with OLF opponent and Beaufort County resident Frances Armstrong.