Wildlife officials confirm crows ‘falling from the sky,’ found dead in Portland were poisoned

FOX 12 viewer image from Grenard Madrigal of crows that fall from the sky and died in northeast Portland. (KPTV)

Wildlife officials have confirmed that crows found dead in northeast Portland were poisoned by a pesticide.

The Audubon Society of Portland reported in late January that at least 10 crows were seen “falling from the sky” as they traveled west toward downtown. Another dead crow was found near Portland State University.

Poisoning was the suspected cause of the deaths.

This week, the Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the crows were poisoned with a neurotoxin sold under the name Avitrol.

The birds fell to the ground and suffered seizures, with the Audubon Society calling the deaths “cruel and inhumane.”

Avitrol is a restricted-use pesticide that can only be administered by a licensed pesticide applicator due to its "acute oral and dermal toxicity" and "extreme toxicity to mammals and birds,” according to the Audubon Society of Portland.

The label requires that "people (other than authorized handlers) and pets must be kept away from treated bait and dead and dying birds at all times. Only protected handlers may be in the area during the bait application and until all dead birds and unused bait is retrieved."

Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency states, “Birds that die as a result of application must be disposed of by burial or incineration in order to minimize secondary poisoning to predatory species. In order to mitigate risk to predatory species, the authorized handler must not leave the site until all dead or dying birds and unused bait are retrieved from the site."

The Audubon Society released a statement saying whoever placed the pesticide in the community likely violated at least two federal laws: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act

“Portlanders place great value on our local wildlife. This poisoning event was inhumane, irresponsible, and most likely illegal,” according to the Audubon Society of Portland.

The Audubon Society of Portland is offering a reward up to $1,000 in this case.

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