Bird Alliance of Oregon Applauds Portland’s Ban of Avitrol and Other Avicides (bird poisons) on City Lands

On June 5, 2019, the City of Portland will vote on a resolution to ban the use of the restricted use pesticide, Avitrol™, as well as other avicides (bird poisons) on lands owned and managed by the City. While the City does not currently use bird poisons on its properties, this resolution sends a strong message to the community that these products are dangerous not only to our birds, but other wildlife, pets and people and should be avoided as a means to address wildlife conflicts.

American Crow, photo by Scott Carpenter

The ban follows high profile incidents in Portland in 2014 and 2018 in which large numbers of dead and dying crows literally fell from the sky after being poisoned with the avicide Avitrol™ and landed in yards, neighborhoods, public parks, parking lots, roads, sidewalks and businesses. Some crows were dead when they hit the ground while others convulsed and experienced seizures on the ground before dying.  

Due to the risk of exposure to people, pets and other wildlife, the incidents necessitated the mobilization of major public resources including the City, state and federal wildlife and enforcement agencies, as well as Bird Alliance of Oregon.  This involved a multi-day effort to retrieve carcasses spread across dozens of city blocks.

“These poisons have absolutely no place anywhere in our community,” said Commissioner Nick Fish. “They not only put our birds and wildlife at risk, but they also put people and pets at risk as well.”

Avitrol is a neurotoxin. Its EPA required label states that it is a restricted-use neurotoxin that can only legally be applied by a licensed applicator due to its “acute oral and dermal toxicity and due to its toxicity to birds and mammals.” Applicators are required to keep people and pets out of the area until all carcasses are retrieved. However, birds will often travel long distances before dying, creating high risk of non-retrieval and secondary exposures.

“These poisons are both extremely inhumane and also incredibly environmentally irresponsible,” said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for Bird Alliance of Oregon. “These birds die terrible deaths and then create addition exposure risks to other wildlife, pets and people. EPA should take these kinds of poisons off the market. We strongly applaud Commissioner Fish and the City for making this move.”

The City has adopted a number of programs and policies in recent years to protect, promote and benefit birds. This includes developing bird friendly vegetation management practices, developing a bird safe building resource guide, adopting bird safe building and green roof requirements for the Central City and general work to protect natural areas and increase tree canopy.

“Portland is a city that cares deeply about its birds and other wildlife,” said Commissioner Nick Fish. “We strive to be a national leader in protecting birds, salmon and other wild animals.”

“Portland is doing a variety of cutting-edge work for wildlife in urban ecosystems,” said Bird Alliance of Oregon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger. “This resolution makes it a national leader in taking a stand against these irresponsible bird poisons.”