Md. to Crack Down on Pesticide in Wake of Bald Eagle Deaths

bald eagle eastern shore joseph h soares jr.jpg

The illegal pesticide carbofuran is still being used on Maryland’s Eastern Shore—and after seven bald eagles were poisoned, the state is cracking down on its use.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) issued an enforcement advisory in response to the most recent poisonings in Kent and Talbot County “reminding all farmers, applicators, and retailers that the use and sale of carbofuran (commonly known as Furadan) is ILLEGAL under state and federal law.”

The advisory continues, “Violations of Maryland’s Pesticide Applicator Law are subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and/or prison. Violators may also be subject to further penalties from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

Last week Bay Bulletin reported on the poisonings that have killed at least seven bald eagles and a horned owl, which appear to be caused by carbofuran. The pesticide was banned by the EPA in 2009. It has been used to poison pests on farms, but it's so lethal to birds that an eagle could die just from feeding on a poisoned fox.

In a case similar to the recent deaths, 13 bald eagle were poisoned back in February 2016 under similar circumstances in Caroline County.

“We are all very troubled by the continued use of this highly toxic banned pesticide,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Carbofuran has been banned for a reason, and this trend of wildlife poisonings on the Eastern Shore is unacceptable. I urge anyone still in possession of carbofuran to contact our pesticide regulation section immediately and arrange for proper disposal.”

It’s technically legal to possess a banned pesticide, but it may not be used, sold, or traded. That’s why MDA and the Department of Natural Resources are calling for anyone with carbofuran to responsibly get rid of it.

“We are extremely concerned about the death of these magnificent birds, including our nation’s symbol. Our first priority is to prevent any further events of this type from occurring,” said Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio.

For directions on the proper disposal of pesticides, call MDA at 410-841-5710, or pest.reg@maryland.gov.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are investigating the most recent cases, and are offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps in their investigation. Click here for our original story on the poisonings.

-Meg Walburn Viviano

Bay Bulletin