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Relax: All Those Sparrows In Jiangmen Aren’t Sick From Avian Flu

Posted: 06/4/2014 3:59 pm

grain sparrows pesticide jiangmen guangdong avian fluWhen grain sparrows started acting strangely in the City of Jiangmen, Guangdong Province, people noticed. And people got worried.

Starting last weekend, grain sparrows were seen in large numbers foraging on the ground at the Guifengshan scenic area in Xinhui District, mostly unable to fly. Those that were able to fly could only do so at low heights and for short periods of time.

As reported in the Yangcheng Evening Report, resident Mr Yang voiced his concern at the ominous signs:

At times there are upwards of a thousand sparrows on the grass; they aren’t acting very lively. Even when a person is walking right in front of them, they will still not fly away.

READ: Report: Female Poultry Workers Most at Risk for Avian Flu

That does sound strange.

Other areas don’t have the same problem. It seems to the people here that these grain sparrows are sick. Does this have anything to do with avian flu?

We’ve been hearing how outbreaks of avian flu have been happening throughout Guangdong Province for years. However, a representative for the Guifengshan scenic area provided an explanation that should ease the worry of local residents: it’s not avian flu, it’s pesticide.

RELATED: New Avian Flu Cases Bring Total to 3 Since
Live Poultry Ban in Guangdong

The scenic area has been working with the forestry department to control an infestation of pine tree caterpillars that occurs annually each May and June by spraying pesticides. The sparrows have gotten sick because they have eaten the affected caterpillars.

And it’s not like the pesticides themselves are directly responsible for the deaths of the grain sparrows. In explaining the disappearance of the sparrows, the scenic area representative said:

Today, there are a lot fewer of them. In the past two days we’ve received a large number of tourists. Sometimes, people would catch or step on the birds. Park workers would stop this when it happened. When dead sparrows are found, we would promptly dispose of them.

Not avian flu at all in this scenario. What’s to worry about?

RELATED: New Case of Avian Flu Reported Despite
Plans to Ban Live Chicken Markets

Any lingering compassion for the welfare of these grain sparrows and the disruption to the local ecosystem at large should really be put aside. As the scenic area representative explains, since the use of pesticides is so effective at controlling the caterpillars, the death of the sparrows is something that cannot be avoided. The representative adds,

…we mainly spray [pesticides] in the area in which there is a high concentration of caterpillars. This will not have a great impact upon [anything else], and for this reason residents can relax.

Nothing to see here, folks. A sparrow is no canary, so by the same logic, this is no coal mine.

Photo: Yangcheng Evening Report 

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