Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 12, 2013

CONFER: When the sky rains starlings

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Farmers are certainly familiar with them. The birds congregate in feedlots by the thousands, stealing feed and defecating in animal food which spreads disease, including transmissible gastroenteritis virus which can be deadly to young swine. It is estimated that starlings are responsible for $800 million in agricultural losses every single year – almost 3 times as much as the much-reviled boll weevil is in modern times. So, with no other options left to contain the birds and prevent the damages, the farmers and USDA regularly poison the birds every winter when they gather in the greatest concentrations (thus making a mass kill easier).

Similar campaigns occur around airports. There, the colonizing birds can prove to be deadly when traveling in large flocks and into the paths of aircraft, getting stuck in their jets or gumming up their propellers. Starlings were the known culprits in the infamous 1960 Boston crash of Flight 375 that killed over 60 people and remains to this day as the single worst bird strike in history.

Taking all of that into consideration, and knowing that the poisoned birds are no threat to you, your pets, or predators, you should accept the mass deaths of starlings with open arms; that is, after you’ve taken the time to pick up their corpses. We would be better served by more mass poisonings of them each winter for this simple reason: the only good starling is a dead starling.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer

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