Winnipeg grackle deaths blamed on pest control chemical

Dozens of grackles that fell out of the sky last month in Winnipeg's North End had been exposed to a chemical in pest control products, according to the Manitoba government.
Dozens of grackles were found dead near an intersection in Winnipeg's North End on Aug. 7. Toxicology test results released Thursday showed the birds had been exposed to anticholinesterase, a chemical found in pest control products. (CBC)

Dozens of grackles that fell out of the sky last month in Winnipeg's North End had been exposed to a chemical in pest control products, according to the Manitoba government.

Toxicology tests on the dead birds found evidence of anticholinesterase, provincial officials announced Thursday.

Anticholinesterase, a chemical that affects the nervous system, is commonly used in products for controlling pests.

At least 50 of the black birds were found dead near the intersection of King Street and Dufferin Avenue in early August, puzzling people who live and work in the area.

It's not known exactly how the birds were exposed to the pest control material.

Earlier test results had ruled out West Nile Virus, avian influenza and Newcastle disease as causes of the bird deaths.

While grackles are not protected under Manitoba's Wildlife Act, the province says it is monitoring wild birds to curb the spread of avian flu and other viruses.

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