Government Investigates Blackbird Deaths While Poisoning Them Itself

Do wildlife officials feel just a little hypocritical answering media questions about the New Year’s Eve blackbird “rain” when they know they kill 200 times that amount a year as “pests”?

In 2009 the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), part of USDA, says it poisoned 489,444 red-winged blackbirds in Texas and 461,669 in Louisiana. It also shot 4,217 blackbirds in California, 2,246 in North Dakota and 1,063 in Oregon according to its posted records.

We won’t even talk about the starlings, crows, ravens, doves, geese, owls (yes, owls), hawks, pigeons, ducks, larks, woodpeckers and coots our tax dollars annihilated to benefit ranchers, farmers and other private interests. Or the squirrels, rabbits, badgers, bobcats, beavers, woodchucks, coyotes, opossums, raccoons and mountain lions.

The he-men at the Wildlife Service also shot 29 great blue herons, 820 cattle egrets and 115 white-faced ibises in 2009, despite the known dangers of approaching shore birds.

It’s hard to know which is worse: government agencies like APHIS, Louisiana State University and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry helping private rice farmers and landowners with our tax dollars. Or the scorched earth baiting of their rice fields with poison “until blackbird populations are depleted,” as LSU’s Rice Research Station News puts it.

APHIS even uses caged red-winged blackbirds as decoys to attract wild ones says Audubon magazine and “pre-baits” an area with unpoisoned food to ensure the most takers.

Nor does the government’s blackbird poison only kill blackbirds.

“APHIS makes sure that the poisoned banquet is especially tempting for wildlife by laying the food out in the spring. This attracts birds and other wildlife  because food sources, especially insects, are limited in early spring,” says the National Audubon Society. “The poisoned rice also looks very tasty because the birds are migrating. The poisoned rice is a ready buffet for any bird to eat, but especially those who are tired and hungry from flying.”

The government used the chemical DRC-1339 to poison the over million blackbirds it killed in 2009, including in Louisiana. The avicide, called Starlicide causes “irreversible kidney and heart damage” says APHIS. “A quiet and apparent painless death normally occurs 1-3 days following ingestion,” writes an APHIS spokesman on the site, probably secure in the fact that his death won’t take three days.

Government wildlife officials may also feel hypocritical about the thousands of dead drum fish that appeared in the Arkansas River a few days before the red-winged blackbirds fell from the sky on New Year’s Eve.

That’s because wildlife agencies also kill entire waterways of fish when it serves their purpose.

Last year, Illinois wildlife officials poisoned 90 tons of goldfish, gizzard and shad in the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal with the chemical Rotenone, which suffocates fish, to support the sport fishing industry. A year earlier they poisoned tens of thousands of goldfish, koi, bass, crappie, catfish and sunfish/bluegill hybrids in Chicago’s Lincoln Park to rehab the pond.

Whether killing fish to save a pond or blackbirds to help farmers, government wildlife officials honor neither the “public” or “trust” in the Public Trust Doctrine they are sworn to. And wildlife has a lot more to fear than New Year’s Eve.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. Her latest book is Big Food, Big Pharma, Big Lies (2023). Her first book was Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp the Public Health. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Martha.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on January 6th, 2011 at 3:28pm #

    Maybe the poisoners should be force fed their own poison?

  2. mary said on January 7th, 2011 at 2:05am #

    I am at the same time most impressed that Martha Rosenberg has found out this terrible litany of facts and absolutely shocked at the extent of the killing and poisoning. What is going on? Any of God’s creatures that breathe and move and live are targets.

    Despite the wonders of the EU bureaucracy and their rules and regulations, a massive poisoning of farmed animals, chickens and pigs, has occurred. How can vegetable oil be confused with industrial oil? Another scam by the corpos no doubt. And the well being of the imprisoned animals is not mentioned. The only concern is for the consumer.

    7 January 2011

    Dioxin animal feed scare shuts German farms

    Hundreds of farms had already been banned from selling eggs

    Related stories
    Contamination eggs exported to UK
    German dioxin worse than feared
    Germany country profile

    More than 4,700 German farms have been closed after large amounts of animal feed were found to be contaminated with dioxin, a poisonous chemical.

    Officials insist the levels of dioxin do not pose a risk to humans, and that the closures are only a precaution.

    Most of the affected farms are pig farms in Germany’s Lower Saxony region.

    Meanwhile, the EU has warned that eggs from farms affected by dioxin have entered the UK in processed products destined for human food.

    The eggs had been sent to the Netherlands for processing and then on to the UK where they were likely to be destined for use in the production of a variety of food stuffs including mayonnaise and pastries.



  3. Don Hawkins said on January 7th, 2011 at 3:51am #

    Martha this is all just normal been going on for about 8,000 years when we first walked with the Dinosaurs and today with mass media a new invention we just see it more better new’s coverage in about 50 years my kid’s and there kid’s will look back on the first part of the twenty first century and just laugh on how some people could not know that all was under control from the greatest minds in human history. Just here in the States the Senate and the House I watched them a little and such knowledge, wisdom gained though the ages was right there for all to see. Then I watched Glenn Beck and he’s got it all wrong everything is just fine I think he just say’s that stuff to make money. Beck is right about climate change being a hoax as did you all see the cold blast coming in a few day’s and oh sure the scientists say it’s because in the summer the ice is melting but what do they know they missed that the Earth is 8,000 years old and we walked with the Dinosaurs a big miss indeed. The real knowledge is still right where it belongs with the people who make the most money it’s always’ been that way and will stay that way for another 8,000 years and yes off to the stars am very sure by then in a bright and shinny starship and by then too flying car’s and peace on Earth yes indeed very peaceful on Earth and when the first human’s look back from there starship at Earth it will be sort of gray in color.

  4. Don Hawkins said on January 7th, 2011 at 5:14am #

    Can you make more money being sincere or insincere? Check this out.


    Where’s Russia on above chart or China.

  5. mary said on January 7th, 2011 at 6:02am #

    Don’t talk such rubbish Don about this having gone on for 8,000 years. We did not have such poisons in our food until the Industrial Revolution. The poisons emanating from Germany that are now in our food chain have been known about since March last year. If it’s happened in Europe you can rest assured that it has happened already in North America.


    Note howe Auntie (BBC) seeks to reassure the reader and not to worry. There, there…. you’ll be OK.

  6. Don Hawkins said on January 7th, 2011 at 7:12am #

    Mary read that post and look’s America is not the only place strangeness is spreading through out the land. Let us sing, “drones over Miami”, “Dioxin in Germany”, and ………………………………?

  7. bozh said on January 7th, 2011 at 8:19am #

    don, in ten words or less: supremacistic thinking arose in mesopotamia and egypt at the latest ca 10kyrs ago.

    we may add: extant today in much of the planet. and anyone who calls u a name, supports god-devil duopoly and supremacism!
    so, on guard all u namecallers; names wdl be visited upon u also! tnx

  8. kalidas said on January 7th, 2011 at 8:08pm #

    In the United States, around nine billion animals are slaughtered every year.

    These civilizations on earth don’t even measure up to planet of the apes.

  9. mary said on January 12th, 2011 at 5:58am #

    This morning it was wonderful to see and hear a flock of what must been thousands of siskins flying from alder tree to alder tree along the river near where I live in the SE of England. They come here from Scandanavia and although the noise was almost deafening, it was good to see them in obvious good health.

    This is one ‘singing’. {}

  10. mary said on January 31st, 2011 at 5:37am #

    You can listen to this BBC presenter, John Humphrys, laughing at the cruelty that was used in the training of the first animal in space, Ham the chimpanzee.


    His psyche is very evident if he thinks this is so funny and trivial. Then you see how easy it is for him and his like at ZBC to make light of the death, killing and torture that has been enacted on mainly brown skinned people by the aggressors over the decades. He has been employed by the BBC since 1966. Well embedded.