Study shows treated seed is harmful to wild birds

Farmers have another reason to limit the amount of treated seed that gets spilled during planting.

Dr. Dana Franzen-Klein with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine’s Raptor Center says a new study shows wild birds are susceptible to adverse effects from neonicotinoid pesticides, which are commonly applied as an external seed coating.

“There’s been documentation of abnormal mentation, they get really depressed and quiet. They can’t fly or walk in a coordinated fashion anymore. There’s also been documentation of decreased reproduction and suppression of their immune system.”

She tells Brownfield most birds don’t dig for seed that’s been planted, so it’s the seed that’s accidentally spilled she’s concerned about.

“So when the planter is filled, or they make sharp turns in the field, is where treated seed is accidentally spilled. And that’s what birds have been seen eating.”

Franzen-Klein says the take-home message for farmers is to pay close attention to when seed spills happen, and to pick up or bury the seed when that occurs.

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