Bird pest control methods defended by Government
A pest control worker has been defended by a Government department after he was accused of killing wild birds during a feral chicken cull.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said the worker followed the rules, despite claims by a business owner that dozens of wild birds, including sparrows and kiskadees, had dropped dead at her premises last month after a sedative was laid down for wild chickens.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said at the time its staff were required to stay on site to keep "non-target animals“ away.
But Sacha Bearden, the owner of Baptiste building supplies in Warwick, claimed she saw a DENR van leave as soon as it had laid down bait.
A ministry spokesman said: “A DENR officer responded to a request from a property owner in the vicinity of Baptiste to remove problem feral chickens.
“On arrival, the officer dispensed the sedative spread on bread to the feral chickens.
“The DENR officer dispensed and remained with the treated bread until the feral chickens had fully consumed it and began wandering away from the complainant’s property into adjacent lots.”
He said the neighbouring properties included Baptiste.
He added: “Over the 20 to 30 minutes it takes for the sedative to take effect, the officer followed the chickens to the neighbouring sites and used untreated bread to keep them in place.
“The officer remained in the area visiting the various sites until all the feral chickens could be collected and humanely euthanised.
“He also revisited the sites twice more that day and returned the following day.”
The spokesman said the sedative bait was never intentionally given to birds that could fly and was only used to control feral chickens.
He added: “It must also be noted that the bait used for the sedative control is hand fed to each bird to minimise ingestion by other non-target birds.”
The spokesman said: “While pest species such as kiskadees and sparrows will sometimes aggressively compete for the same bait, it is improbable that seed-eating birds, such as cardinals, catbirds, and bluebirds, will be attracted to this type of bait.
“Furthermore, the bait is never given in such quantities that secondary poisoning occurs, for example, a cat eating a euthanised bird.”
Island farmers backed the department’s view that regular culls of feral chickens were needed to protect crops and promote food security.
The department uses a multipronged approach to the control of bird pests.
These include traps, shooting and chemical controls, depending on the circumstances.
The feral chicken management plan is available to view at https://environment.bm/feral-chickens