Pesticide Use Kills More Than Just Pests
June 9, 2002
Our View Wausau Daily Herald
She's eloquent, even when she talks about the effects of poison on birds brought to her for rehabilitation. But too many birds don't even make it as far as Antigo and the raptor rehabilitation center Marge Gibson has created. Instead, they die from the poisons in their food - poisons we put there, on purpose.
This winter, Gibson, executive director of the Raptor Education Group Inc., took in 30 eagles from the Sauk City area that had been poisoned. Blood samples have been sent to state and federal laboratories for testing. Gibson suspects the poison is something new, but its frustrating.
Everyone is doing the very best they can. Its just hard because we see them as patients, and we have to se the seizures
holding them until they get better or die. Poisoned birds can have seizures so severe they break bones. Gibson and people who help her will hold birds for 24 or 36 hours to keep them from hurting themselves during seizures that can last a minute and a half and occur every 5 to 7 minutes.
When they recover, its a real cause for celebration, but a lot of them dont recover, and thats hard. Especially eagles. They are such strong, proud birds. To see them go through something like that.
(The eagle) has survived everything the world has to throw at him, except a poisoned rat.
That was winters problem, though. Now, Gibson sees birds affected by agricultural pesticides and herbicides and chemicals people use on their grass.
People dont realize, and they dont mean to, they arent doing this on purpose, Gibson said, giving us the benefit of the doubt. People hear the chemical companies, Have this wonderful green lawn:
Its kind of a contest to see who has the best lawn with no dandelions, when what theyre putting on
means to kill.
Even chemicals supposedly safe for children and pets can kill wildlife. Birds and animals cant read. People can keep pets and children off the grass for two hours after application. Insects, birds, and animals dont know any better. They can be infected and eat infected food.
A robin eats a bug thats dying, then the robin dies. An owl eats the robin, the owl dies. Or a bluebird takes the chemical back to the nest, and feeds infected food to its young. The whole nest dies. In Wausau, recently, an adult pair of eagles was poisoned. They could fly, but they couldnt walk, land, or hunt. Their fledgling eaglets were starving.
It would be nice if we could get people to want to have contests for the healthiest lawn, best for the environment, Gibson said. For our groundwater and for everything, that would be the best.
Take Gibsons advice. Forgo the chemically treated lawn in favor of a healthy lawn for you, your children, your pets, and our wildlife.