Re: birding-aus Fenthion Bird Deaths

Subject: Re: birding-aus Fenthion Bird Deaths
From: Pat Macwhirter <>
Date: Wed, 1 Sep 1999 13:11:44 +1000
Dear Jon and all,

The sad part of this, Jon, is that while the Bowen Shire Council condemns the perpetrators of this crime, it is now perfectly legal to use fenthion to kill birds in Victoria. Even though the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and the Environment has not provided an approved protocol, nor even issued guidelines as to which chemicals are recommended, at last count 81 permits, primarily centred around Horsham, had been given to untrained farmers to use poisons for bird destruction.

There has been no monitoring of the results of the use of these poisons, so we have no information regarding their effectiveness in reducing perceived crop damage nor any indication of the degree of damage caused to non-target species. This is vital information if a genuine effort is to be made to find effective, humane means of reducing economic damage caused by problem birds while at the same time minimising harm to other wild life or the environment. Other means apart from broadcast poisoning are available to address the damage as outlined in the Report on Problems in Victoria caused by Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs, published by the Parliament of Victoria in 1995. The findings of this committee catagorically did 'not support the use of poison to kill wildlife'

Protests raised by Birds Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association, the Association of Avian Veterinarians and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have, to date, fallen on deaf ears. Unfortunately the Victorian State government currently fully supports this outright environmental vandalism.

As we are currently in the middle of a snap election in Victoria I would urge list members to write or email relevant politicians. The Minister responsible, Marie Tehan is retiring. Decision makers associated with this policy include the Premier, Jeff Kennett, and Patrick Mc Namara, Deputy Premier and Minister for Agriculture and Resources, email addresses as follows:

 or see

The Leader of the Opposition is Steve Bracks 

Further snail mail address information can be found at

Kind regards,


Patricia Macwhirter BVSc, FACVSc (Bird Medicine)
Highbury Veterinary Clinic, 128 Highbury Road, BURWOOD, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA
Ph: (03) 9808 9011 Fax: (03) 9888 7134

Bowen Independent. Wednesday 11 August 1999.

Council update on bird deaths by Jon Gibbons*

Bowen Shire Council has recently obtained results from the Qld. National Parks and Wildlife Service in relation to the bird kills in Collinsville and Scottville.
As reported in the BI previously 4 and 6 August, the chemical fenthion
was responsible.
The results show that the three bird specimens contained 1.9mg, 700mg and 3800mg per kg of fenthion in their stomach and intestine contents otherwise the birds were in good condition. Fenthion is a moderately toxic compound with trade names: Bay 29493, Baycid, Baytex, Dalf, DMTP, Enfex, Lebaycid, Mercaptophos, Prentox Fenthion 4E, Queletex, S1752, Spotton, Taladox and Tiguvon. Fenthion is available in dust, emulsified concentrate, liquid concentrate, spray concentrate ULV and wettable powder formulations. Fenthion is an organ-phosphate insecticide used to control sucking and biting pests. It is moderately toxic to animals and highly toxic to birds. Based on this high toxicity to birds, fenthion is used in various parts of the world for weaver bird control. Pest control operators have used it to control pigeons around public buildings. In animals and humans fenthion is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream via the digestive tract, lungs and skin. In water bodies it can kill fresh water animals such as mussels, plankton and fish. Acute symptoms of fenthion poisoning in birds include tearing of the eyes, foaming salivation, lack of movement, tremors, congestion in wind pipe, lack of coordination in walking and an abnormally rapid rate of breathing or difficult breathing. Also reported in the Bowen Independent were the recent bird deaths in South africa and Podor attributable to fenthion. More than 6 million birds were killed in these areas within weeks following the use of Queletox containing an active ingredient fenthion. While the use of Queletox in these cases had been directed at seed eating birds causing crop losses to farmers, many ohter non-target species including herons and cranes have died together with vultures and other raptor birds which have consumed dead birds. As can be seen from this information, fenthion can have a dramatic affect on bird populations. Council has released this information in the hope that public knowledge regarding the use of fenthion containing products is heightened in an effort to prevent more bird deaths. Users of agricultural chemicals are reminded to read labels thoroughly before usage and to discard empty chemical containers carefully. Councils Drummuster collection point is available for rinsed empty chemical containers. Enquiries may be directed to council health and environmental services section on 07 4786 0633. * Jon Gibbons is Bowen Shire Council Director of Health and Environmental Services.

As far as I am aware the suspect has not been charged to date. These bird deaths continue, now into its third month. When is enough, enough?
Jon Wren
PO Box 868
Bowen (Climate Capital of Australia)
Australia 4805
Phone 07 4786 2614H
Mobile 0412 789 285  email: 

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