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Houston airport pigeons poisoned by the hundreds

HOUSTON — Just after daybreak on Saturday and Sunday, employees at Bush Intercontinental Airport saw birds in distress mysteriously begin to drop from the sky.

“It was going around and around in circles, you know, like how somebody is drunk or dizzy,” parking lot worker Betrice Miles said of the one she saw.

Pigeons and grackles were exhibiting seizure-like behavior, and the beginnings of a slow death. Miles’ co-worker Shara Kelly shot video of one dying bird on her cell phone.

“It was right there for a long time just flipping and flipping and flipping,” Kelly said. “And I was like, why are these birds dying like that, I don’t know if it’s something that somebody fed them.”

The birds had been fed a toxic bait called Avitrol, sold in the form of corn kernels. Hundreds were poisoned and killed at the airport last weekend as part of a “bird abatement project” that animal rights groups call cruel and inhumane despite its sanction by government agencies.

United Airlines said it hired a licensed pest control contractor, in cooperation with the Houston Airport System, to distribute the Avitrol to “reduce the health and safety risks posed by birds at airport property.”

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