2012: 50 bird killed near Mudgee NSW. Pesticide: Mevinphos

Pesticide kills nearly 50 birds

A man who killed 46 birds, the majority of which were native, by misusing a pesticide when attempting to control problem pigeons was convicted and ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in Mudgee Local Court last Wednesday.

Clark Lennard Bell, 66, pleaded guilty to the charges of ‘Use pesticide as to harm non-target animal/plant’, ‘Not understand label before using registered pesticide’, and ‘Possess/use restricted pesticide without authority’.

He was fined $3500, ordered to pay professional costs of $3500 and a further $2500 to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Since 2009 the Mudgee mill where Bell was general manager has had trouble with pigeons entering, roosting and defecating in the building.

Bell tried a range of methods to rid the mill of the birds without success.

In July last year he found a 20 to 30 year old insecticide in the shed on the site of the mill which he used to bait the pigeons.

The substance was Phosdrin Insecticide, a restricted pesticide which Bell didn’t have the authority to use, which didn’t have the full label, and which has never been approved for use on birds.

Around this time, members and players of the nearby Mudgee Golf Club started to notice dead cockatoos and galahs on the course, along with several more dead birds and pigeons around the adjacent railway tracks.

In total 46 birds were found dead, 25 cockatoos, 12 galahs and nine pigeons.

Bell’s solicitor, Stephen Flynn, told the court that his client’s actions were “reckless as oppose to deliberate” and that he was “amateurishly attempting to solve a problem to the business”.

Ms Junor of the EPA said that Phosdrin Insecticide is a particularly dangerous pesticide and that there must have been “an awareness in the mind of the defendant that his actions were unlawful”.

Magistrate Michael Allen said the incident was “reckless conduct” and “unsophisticated” but “accepts there was no intention to harm anything beyond pest pigeons”.

However he went on to say there needs to be “a significant deterrent” to breaching regulations aimed at protecting native animals.

“There needs to be greater care given to the land that these people derive their living from,” he said.