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article imageUnited Airlines and Houston Airport kill hundreds of birds

By Ryan Hite     Jul 17, 2014 in Environment
Houston - A poison that some see as inhumane is being employed by the Houston Airport and United Airlines. The method to kill these birds seem to go too far for some people.
Between Saturday and Sunday morning, employees and travelers at Houston's Intercontinental Airport were treated to a horrifying sight of hundreds of birds dropping out of the sky, having seizures, and then dying.
KHOU investigated the incident and found that United Airlines, in cooperation with the airport authority, hired a pest control contractor to "reduce the health and safety risk" of the birds by using a poison called Avitrol. The airline, which is the largest at the airport, placed poisoned bait throughout their hangar full of corn tainted with the poison.
The result was that hundreds of grackles and pigeons falling to the ground and having seizures that lasted as much as an hour before they finally died.
"These deaths look anything but humane," Dr. John Hadidian said. He is the Senior Scientist with the Humane Society of the United States.
One of the birds, a great-tailed grackle, took a full hour to die, sometimes struggling to move its legs, sometimes appearing paralyzed with its beak open for several minutes at a time, before finally giving up from the side effects.
"The birds that are dying after ingesting this compound are suffering and in great distress," Dr. Hadidian stated.
Bird strikes can pose a serious risk to aircraft. The US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River back in 2009 was forced down because it was struck by a bird and the engines failed because of it.
But critics say that the use of Avitrol, which is banned in several states, was not a very humane way to deal with the bird problem at the airport, and the resulting display of birds collapsing, seizing and dying painfully in front of scores of people was painful to some to watch.
[url= t=_blank]USA Today reported that the makers of Avitrol say the birds were not in pain and that those who ingest a small amount "recover with no lasting effects." United says that it hires pest control companies to handle bird abatement at the airport about once a year. Other bird control methods used by airports include loud noises and birth control pills in bird food.
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