Five incidences of bird mortality in Georgia and West Virginia (USA) involving migratory waterfowl, cranes, raptors, corvids and songbirds were investigated during the first 6 mo of 1988. Gross and histopathologic examinations revealed no evidence of infectious or other diseases. However, severe depression of cholinesterase activity was evident in brains of birds found dead, suggesting gross exposure to an organophosphorus (OP) or carbamate pesticide. All of the gastrointestinal tract contents chemically analyzed contained famphur, an OP insecticide used as a pour-on treatment against lice and grubs on livestock, ranging from 5 to 1,480 ppm (wet weight). Grain scattered at two of the mortality sites contained 4,240 and 8,500 ppm famphur. Gastrointestinal tracts of most of the dead birds contained mainly corn and some wheat. This is the first report to document the use of famphur as an intentional means of killing wildlife thought to be depredating crops.
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Vol. 25 • No. 2