Thousands of dead birds found

January 26, 2009 3:51:01 PM PST
Like some scary old Hitchcock movie, they seem to be everywhere, hundreds if not thousands of dead starlings and blackbirds littering lawns in the Griggstown section of Franklin Township."Several hundred poisoned animals. I saw what looked like in the evening a sea of birds, saw them stuck in my car windshield and on top of the roof," described Andrea Kepic. Ray Kiveris is still picking them up; he's already collected over 200 in his yard. He said it started Friday night when dead birds began falling from the sky. "Started freaking out and we went out and started searching and they were all over the place. It's surreal, I've never seen anything like it," he said.

The dead birds, we now know, are the result of a culling program by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture attempting to help a Princeton farm overrun by birds. The poison left for them takes 24 hours to ingest before the birds die. Local officials said the feds gave nothing but a vague notification of what was happening.

"They did not tell us when they were gonna do it, where they were gonna do it or what the aftermath would be," said Kenneth Daly, Franklin Township Manager.

Pete Rice said, "I think it would have been nice if somebody had let us know so we wouldn't get upset, you know?"

Neighbors are annoyed, and worried, about their safety and their pets.

"Two of the birds we picked up were half eaten. So whoever ate them I don't know if these animals are going to get sick," said Colette Kiveris.

The Dept. of Agriculture has told local officials the dead birds are not a hazard to people or pets because the poison metabolizes inside the birds, essentially disappearing by the time they die.

And after first telling residents to clean up the carcasses themselves the township is now offering public works crews to help collect and dispose of them.

Repeated calls to the USDA about the bird kill were not returned.

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