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Hefty fine is handed down

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

CAPE GIRARDEAU - A New Madrid man will pay a hefty fine after being found guilty of poisoning birds.

Kenneth Schaffer, 51, appeared in federal court Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lewis M. Blanton on two separate violations concerning the illegal use of a pesticide. Schaffer entered guilty pleas to one count of illegal use of a pesticide and one count of illegally killing migratory birds.

On Aug. 8, the Missouri Department of Conservation was contacted by a concerned citizen, reporting the discovery of numerous dead birds located near State Highway D near Lilbourn. When a conservation officer investigated the report, several dead birds were found near several areas of bird seed mixture that was spread on the ground. A sample of the bird seed was collected and submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services laboratory for testing, along with a sample of the dead birds. The laboratory confirmed that the seed was mixed with the pesticide Bidrin and concluded it was responsible for the deaths of the birds.

Officers determined Schaffer was the person who farmed the site where the seed and dead birds were found. Schaffer was contacted and upon arrival, he helped the officers with the investigation.

Schaffer admitted he had placed the poisonous bird seed on the ground. He said he had suffered some crop losses because of the blackbirds eating unharvested grain and decided to place the Bidrin and seed on the ground in an attempt to control those losses until harvest.

A licensed chemical applicator, Schaffer said was aware of the use restrictions for Bidrin as set out on the product's label and also knew that his use of the product was a violation of those restrictions. Schaffer then took steps to remove the bird seed from the area where it could be accessed by more birds.

The bird seed was determined to have caused the deaths of approximately 350 birds of various species, including several mourning doves, which are protected by federal status.

The court assessed a fine totaling $4,000 to Schaffer for these two violations.