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Ozark - the Australian Wildlife Carer's Information & Communications Network

Tue - Oct 17
2017


ORGANOCHLORINE OR ORGANOPHOSPHATE POISONING OF WILDLIFE

By Kathryn Keen

Sometimes wildlife may be found with symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Pesticide poisoning can be a dreadful and cruel death for wildlife. Over recent years, the number of these terrible poisonings has dropped off considerably, compared to around 10 years ago, when we used to see many poisoning deaths on the Central Coast of NSW. This is possibly a result of the fact that the use of many Organochlorine pesticides was banned in 1987, and of the subsequent gradual break-down of these poisons in the environment. These poisons remain highly toxic for many years. However, we do still see a number of these sad cases every year, and it is often seen in areas where homeowners have recently treated outdoor areas for spiders etc.

Even though the use of most Organochlorines was banned in 1987, the use of some Organochlorines were still allowed to be used for termite eradication by pest control companies for another decade. The use of Heptachlor, Aldrin and Dieldrin by pesticide companies for killing termites, cockroaches, spiders etc. continued to be a constant source of these poisons in the environment. This in turn killed many of the creatures that would naturally keep insect pests under control; in particular insectivorous birds. Birds are known to be far more susceptable to pesticide poisoning than mammals; and tawny frogmouths appear to be particularly susceptible.

Tawny Frogmouth poisoned by pesticides

This poor young tawny frogmouth was a victim of pesticide poisoning in 2003.   It is a dreadful and cruel death.




ORGANOCHLORINE COMPOUNDS BIOMAGNIFY WITHIN THE FOOD CHAIN.

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ORGANOCHLORINES CAN ENTER THE BODY THROUGH INHALATION,
INGESTION OR THROUGH SKIN.

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THE USE OF ORGANOCHLORINES BY PEST CONTROL COMPANIES AND THE BUILDING INDUSTRY WAS SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN PHASED OUT BY 1997 IN ALL STATES, OTHER THAN NT, UNDER THE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ACT 1997.

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  • The first report of Organochlorine poisoning in the tawny frogmouth was published in 1981. This case was found to have elevated concentrations of lindane, heptachlor, and alpha-benzene-heptachlor in the brain. In 1994 a study was undertaken that revealed elevated tissue concentrations of Organochlorine residues in the brain and liver of tawny frogmouths that had died with typical poisoning symptoms in that year. The residues were of: Analyte, Oxychlordane, Heptachlor-epoxide, DDE & Dieldrin.

  • In some cases, the tawny frogmouths are exposed to toxic concentrations over a period of time. The poisons are stored in their fat deposits and gradually increase over time. At times of food scarcity, or during any stressful period, such as breeding season or any changes to their environment, the fat stores are metabolised, and with it, the poison load in their blood streams reaches acute levels.




Organophosphate:

Whilst the trade of pesticides and household insecticides booms every spring, the untold story is the sad toll that this takes on the wildlife, many of which are the natural predators of these insect 'pests'.

Organophosphates are currently used in many of the typical insecticides sold as household and gardens sprays. Organophosphates are in fact derived from the extremely toxic nerve gasses that were developed during World War I, such as Sarin. Whilst Organophosphates have less residual effect than Organochlorines - which means that they break down in the environment faster - Organophosphates damage the nervous system and are highly toxic at small doses. Many garden bug sprays that are used to kill bugs will kill not only the pest species, but also may likely kill the predators of the pest species.

People's fear of spiders in their gardens in particular, and also ignorance of the natural balance of nature, has caused untold suffering and death of our wildlife, and actually perpetuates the problem, as the natural predators of spiders and garden insects become poisoned by pesticides.

Much of the solution is simply to learn to live with spiders and various insects living in the yard. Spiders in the house can be caught with a glass jar.  Place the jar over the spider, and carefully slide a sheet of paper or cardboard underneath, until the spider is enclosed in the jar.  Empty the jar outside.  Fly screens on windows and doors are a must.  Some garden insect pests can be removed from gardens by hand, or natural products may be used instead of highly toxic chemicals.  Pyrethrum is generally considered to be a safer alternative, although it is toxic to frogs, so shouldn't be used near waterways.

If you have been using chemical pesticides in your garden for a long time, it may take a while for a natural balance to be restored. But if you can learn to tolerate the varied insect life sharing a bit of your garden, then you will find that in time, the natural predators of these insects will return, and a balance will be restored. However, if you do need to use some sort of pesticides in the garden, then try the recipe below, before heading for the poisons.


WILDLIFE-FRIENDLY GARDEN INSECTICIDE SPRAY

  Soap has been used for centuries as an all-purpose pesticide.  It disrupts the cell membranes, and so the insect dies of dehydration.  If you use too much soap in the mix, you will kill the plant as well, so don't think "more is better".  A cheap, pure laundry soap, like Sunlight, is best.

  • Use 50gm grated cake soap  (or 2 tablespoons liquid soap)  to 5 litres of hot water, and spray from a spray bottle as needed.

    Garlic Variation
  • Use 2 - 3 heads of garlic, crush and cover with boiling water and leave overnight. Strain and use the garlic water as part of the 5 litres of water to go into the soap mix.



SEE ALSO - "WILDLIFE FRIENDLY PEST CONTROL"




For more information on pesticides:
http://www.oztoxics.org/cmwg/library/casestudies/cm%20aust%20wildlife_1.html
http://www.newint.org/issue323/facts.htm
http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/reports/ptf/ptf.html


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