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Pesticide Causes Birds To Fall From Sky In New Jersey

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By Robin Rieger

MILLVILLE, N. J. (CBS) - A bird in a Millville back yard chirps out its last breaths while in a nearby bush another one does the same. Feet from them, on Peach Drive and near other homes, the bodies of birds lay where they died Tuesday right in front of many stunned residents.

Their calls brought out Hazmat crews to clean up and investigate.

“You could see the birds just flying and crashing into trees and houses. They’d fall on the ground and try and get up and fly. It was crazy,” said Jim Sinclair.

“One fell from this tree over here, it was flopping around then it died,” said Kristie Knoll.

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection confirms farmer Richard Ingraldi, whose crops are grown nearby, had a department issued permit to use the granular pesticide avitrol.

It kills the birds after they eat it by affecting their central nervous system. Officials confirm it was put on the fields without violation in the last 48 hours.

“It sure does appear that it was effective and we have dead birds on the fields as well as some of the neighborhoods,” said Cumberland County Public Information officer Troy Ferus.

Plenty of upset residents initially got reverse 911 calls Tuesday morning telling them to stay inside because of the dead birds.

They appear to be mostly red winged black birds. They are now getting calls from the county saying an approved granular pesticide is in use nearby.

“I don’t think its right to kill birds like that,” said Darlene Knoll. She said she watched birds fall to the ground from her backyard bird feeders.

A man with a farmer license plate on his truck opened the gate and drove onto the nearby farm fields Tuesday. He would not identify himself but said birds destroyed 80 percent of his corn crop. No one at the Ingraldi farm stand would comment and no one returned our calls at the Ingraldi farms business phone number.

A county spokesman says the dead birds aren’t toxic but more are expected.

Residents are being advised that if they throw the birds away to use gloves and put the birds in a plastic bag. Also, do not let children handle any dead animals.

Residents with questions and concerns can contact the Cumberland County Board of Health.

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