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Poisoning of crows on hold



Published: Sat, January 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The bird-killing chemical is not approved for use in Pennsylvania.

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) -- A plan to poison thousands of crows in and around Lancaster has been nixed for this year, but officials claimed that the move was not the result of increasing opposition.

"There is no way the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services will conduct crow reduction this winter," Chris Croson, of the agency's Harrisburg office, said Thursday.

The chemical that would be used to kill the birds has not been approved by the federal government for use in Pennsylvania, and it would take several months after its approval to prepare, Croson said. However, the poisoning could happen next year, he said.

Local municipal officials, however, said they still supported the plan.

"If it was a bad thing to do, we wouldn't be doing it," said James Martin, Manheim Township manager. "We are trying to protect other species -- humans."

"Kids are walking in [crow droppings] and tracking it into the house. That's not a healthy situation, either," East Petersburg borough manager James R. Williams said.

Ornithological opposition

But bird-watching hot lines and Web forums are filled with denouncements of the plan. They contend that the migratory birds will be gone in a month or so, and that it is wrong to use lethal means to address a temporary nuisance, not a health threat.

Supporters of the bird poisoning have argued that the huge flocks of crows pose a risk of spreading the West Nile virus to people.

"What's driving this is the simple nuisance factor that drives many of these crow-eradication programs: Lots of noisy, messy birds in a town, in this case, a winter roost of about 10,000 crows," Scott Weidensaul, an author and ornithologist from Schuylkill Haven, wrote on the PABIRDS Web site.

Mosquitoes, not crows, are the main carriers of the disease -- and a crow roost in the winter, when mosquitoes are dormant, isn't much of a West Nile virus risk, Weidensaul wrote.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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