- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

STOW CREEK TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - Testing continues to find out what killed 200 birds in a southern New Jersey town, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The dead birds were found in November around Frank Davis Road in Stow Creek Township. Testing is continuing but one hypothesis is that the birds were poisoned by imidacloprid, an insecticide used by farmers when they plant their crops.

“To actually confirm it scientifically, we sent specimens, additional specimens, to be evaluated for that pesticide,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for DEP, told NJ.com (https://bit.ly/2kcFYRn).

On Nov. 2, about 12 to 18 dead birds - mostly red-winged blackbirds were reported in a rural section of Cumberland County. Birds continued to be found dead in the area - estimated around 200 - into November.

“A poisoning was suspected in the black birds due to the acute nature and highly localized area of the mortality pattern,” states a New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife report dated Dec. 15.

The birds were seen feeding in nearby farms and, once approached, were slow to take off. Once in the area, they were seen dropping out of the sky midflight. Officials performed necropsies - animal autopsies - on the dead birds and found internal bleeding and trauma caused by the birds hitting the ground.

While there is no evidence of chemical poisoning at this time, a local farmer was using fungicides and pesticides, including imidacloprid.

“Everyone should be concerned about the ramifications of hundreds of birds falling from the sky,” said Jane Galetto of Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and its Tributaries.

According to Galetto, imidacloprid and other insecticides in the neonicotinoids chemical class are harmful to the ecosystem.

According to the DEP, imidacloprid can cause disorientation in birds and is considered toxic. Wheat seeds from the farmer’s field were found to be ingested by the birds but have not shown to contain imidacloprid.

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Information from: NJ.com, https://www.nj.com

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