Reliable Answers - News and Commentary

Pesticides, NOT West Nile Virus, are the Leading Cause of Bird Deaths

by: Dr. Joseph Mercola

A New York State wildlife official has discovered that of birds collected for a study on West Nile Virus, more died from pesticide poisoning than from the virus itself.

After receiving more than 80,000 birds, Dr. Ward Stone discovered that while the virus was a factor in some of the deaths, the leading cause was pesticide poisoning.

In response to this early data, the National Audubon Society is calling upon Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia to begin testing dead birds for pesticide poisoning, if they have not already, and to publicly release their findings.

Last year, prompted by concern about the spread of West Nile Virus, New York State asked counties to report dead birds to its wildlife pathology laboratory. After receiving more than 80,000 birds, Dr. Ward Stone discovered that while the virus was a factor in some of the deaths, the leading cause was pesticide poisoning.

Common lawn care chemicals were among the most common toxins.

"Millions of us use pesticides like Diaznon and Dursban at home," said Frank Gill, Audubon's Senior Vice President of Science. "We deserve to know as much as possible about their effect on us. Like canaries in a coalmine, birds warn of danger in our environment. If these chemicals kill birds, what are they doing to our kids?"

In addition to threatening wildlife, pesticides are believed to harm humans. According to Pesticide Watch, pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to chronic conditions like cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.

"State governments are responsible for protecting the public's health," said Audubon President John Flicker. "We think it's important for them to find out what these bird deaths mean."

Founded in 1905 and supported by 600,000 members in 510 chapters throughout the Americas, the National Audubon Society conserves and restores natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, and their habitats, for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity

National Audubon Society


Dr. Mercola's Comment:

So many of us don't have the slightest idea of the impact of using these toxic chemicals has on the environment. Those of you familiar with the West Nile virus in the New York area especially appreciate this information.

This is one of the first bits of information to place the responsibility for the deaths of so many birds on lawn chemicals and other pesticide applications.

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©Copyright 2005 Dr. Joseph Mercola. All Rights Reserved. Special thanks to Dr. Mercola for allowing us the use of this article, which originally ran on July 4, 2001.

Updated January 4, 2007

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