Wed, Jan 16, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Taitung bird deaths ‘mystery’ probed

Staff writer, with CNA

Dead birds are pictured in Taitung County’s Beinan Township on Monday.

Photo: CNA

An investigation is under way into the death of about 1,200 birds in an organic rice paddy in Taitung County after powerful pesticides were identified as the culprit, local police said on Monday.

Taitung Animal Disease Control Center Director Li Huan-tang (黎煥棠) said that tests last week of grain particles in the stomachs of the birds found them to contain trace amounts of the pesticide carbofuran.

The center has determined the birds were killed by the chemical, one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides marketed in Taiwan, which is used to kill insects during the period when rice and vegetable seedlings are being cultivated.

Taitung County Agriculture Department Director Hsu Rui-kuei (許瑞貴) said that after the findings were made public the National Police Agency launched an investigation to determine if the birds were illegally poisoned.

Seventh Special Police Corps division head Wu Chia-wen (吳嘉文) said that the farmer, a tenant from outside the county, said that he never used chemicals because of his dedication to organic farming.

Nearby farmers also said they did not use pesticides, Wu said, and no carbofuran residue has been found in the area, giving police little to go on in their search for the source of the poison.

The investigation is being expanded in the hope of unearthing the truth, Wu said.

Most of the birds were scaly-breasted munia, according to the Wild Bird Society of Taitung.

Other species included sparrows, red turtle doves, spotted doves, white-rumped munia and white-breasted waterhens, as well as two ring-necked pheasants, which are a protected species.

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