USDA uses chemical for GI starling problem

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) Grand Island city officials said the USDA used a chemical Tuesday to reduce the number of starlings in the city and in Hall County.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) treated the local starling population using DRC – 1339, assisting in reduction of the birds.

The city said the chemical used is bird specific, and harm to any other animal (other than the target species) is not anticipated. The targeted birds will expire 24 to 36 hours after consuming the treated feed and will often be found at the bird’s roosting locations.

Information from the USDA website indicates that this chemical is also used in other areas of the country to control blackbirds, crows, ravens, gulls and magpies.

The use of this chemical is only effective during the fall and winter months when large flocks consistently feed in one location. During the spring and summer months the birds are less likely to congregate in large numbers as the birds feed in local fields and on grain and insects, making treatment applications nearly impossible.

If residents should find deceased starlings on their private property, it is okay to dispose of the birds in trash containers. The USDA recommends using gloves or a bag when picking the starlings up. Residents who are physically unable to dispose of the birds can call City Hall at 308-385-5455 to make arrangements for cleanup. The City of Grand Island will only offer this service if a resident is incapable of the collection and disposal of the birds.

Many residents have expressed concerns of noise and filth nuisances related to the starlings, but of most concern is the health nuisance caused from the droppings of the birds. Starlings can spread Salmonella, E. coli, perpetuate a fungus soil known as Histoplasmosis, as well as West Nile.

The city started addressing this problem with treatments in 2005. This is the only successful known treatment option for this nuisance.

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