Help Us Ban the Bird Poison Avitrol – Comments Due 5/17

The notorious bird poison Avitrol is up for re-registration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Avitrol is the poison that caused dead and dying crows to rain down over Portland parks and neighborhoods in 2014 and 2018, putting people, pets and non-target wildlife at risk.  It is an inhumane and indiscriminate poison that has no place in our communities. 

We need your help to ensure the EPA takes strong action to address Avitrol during this re-registration process.  Currently, the EPA is only proposing very minor changes to Avitrol’s label that would do nothing to address the well documented risks associated with this poison. It is critical that EPA get this right because it will be another 15-years before Avitrol comes up for review again. 

An American Crow calling while standing on the ground.
American Crow, photo by Scott Carpenter

Avitrol is advertised as a humane way to get rid of nuisance birds. In fact, a closer reading of its label reveals 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.” Target birds are baited with food laced with Avitrol. 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.

In 2014 and 2018, Portland experienced two major incidents involving Avitrol in which large numbers of dead and dying crows literally fell from the sky across dozens of city blocks after being poisoned with the 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 the Bird Alliance of Oregon.  This involved a multi-day effort to retrieve carcasses spread across dozens of city blocks. As a result of these incidents, the City of Portland banned the use of Avitrol on City owned lands in 2019. It is time to ban this poison nationwide.

Submit Comments by May 17, 2021

Please write to the EPA before 9 pm PST on Monday, May 17, 2021 and let them know that their proposed label modifications do not go anywhere near far enough to address the risks associated with Avitrol. Comments can be submitted via the EPA comment portal:

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Talking Points

    1. You are commenting on the registration review of the avicide,  Avitrol (4-aminopyridine) Docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0030
    2. The proposed label changes are completely inadequate to address the well-documented risks associated with Avitrol.
    3. In developing these proposed label modifications, EPA failed to consider serious Avitrol related events that have occurred in Portland and other cities across North America and which have resulted in multiple cities enacting local bans on the product. Portland has already had two major Avitrol incidents in 2014 and 2018 in which dead and dying crows poisoned with Avitrol rained down over dozens of city blocks landing on streets, sidewalks, parks, yards and businesses. These incidents were extremely frightening to the community and required major mobilization of public and non-profit resources to resolve.
    4. Since it cannot be used safely, EPA should classify Avitrol as an “imminent hazard” and remove it from the market. It is not acceptable for EPA to permit the use of a poison for which the labeling requirements create a high risk of scattering highly toxic carcasses either across densely populated human landscapes or in locations where there is a risk of secondary poisoning of protected wildlife.
    5. If EPA does choose to continue allowing the use of Avitrol, the agency must require much more stringent labeling requirements than is currently being proposed:
        • The local government should be notified in writing at least 14-days in advance of the intended application of Avitrol including the specific location(s), date(s) of application, target species, and should include a copy of the applicators restricted use pesticide applicators license.
        • All property owners in the vicinity of the application site(s) should be notified in writing (mail, door hangers, etc.) at least 14 days in advance of the application of the specific location(s), date(s) of application and target species. Notice should also should include the applicators restricted use pesticide applicators identification #, applicator’s 24-hour/ day contact information, instructions on what to do if a potentially poisoned live/dead animal is found, and instructions on what to do if a potential exposure of people or pets has occurred. 
        • Warning signs should be posted on the actual site on which Avitrol is applied throughout the duration of the application.
        • Applicators must remain on site during the entire duration of the application process until all poisoned bait is consumed or removed and should be responsible for removing all poisoned carcasses from the environment.

It is outrageous that EPA would reregister Avitrol without taking meaningful steps to address the well-documented hazards associated with this product. Please let them know that they must take strong action to protect our wildlife and our communities.

Thank you for speaking out for wildlife!