State investigates complaint about pest control company after reports of dead birds on Wrightsville Beach

State investigates pest control company after reports of dead birds near beach
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:22 PM EST
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - A day on the beach can sometimes be interrupted by pesky pigeons and other birds. Pest control is a common practice for beachfront businesses. A state investigation is underway, however, after staff at one establishment reported finding dead birds near the Crystal Pier.

A representative with LM Restaurants, the group that owns Oceanic in Wrightsville Beach, says the restaurant hired a pest control company to manage the pigeon population at the restaurant. The representative says shortly after the control work started, staff members noticed one or two dead birds and reported the issue to the pest removal company.

A spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the Pest Control and Pesticides Division is investigating a complaint related to that company hired to do work in Wrightsville Beach.

The spokesperson says investigators have not found any dead birds while looking into the complaint.

Lindsay Addison, a coastal biologist with Audubon North Carolina says several people have emailed the conservation group since last summer seeking guidance after finding dead and injured birds along Wrightsville Beach.

“Late last summer, we got some phone calls from members of the public who had encountered birds that were dead or dying on the beach near the piers,” said Addison. “They were understandably upset and, you know, didn’t know what to do and just were seeking guidance.”

Addison says pest removal is common for restaurants and other businesses near the beach. She says the goal is to drive the birds away from what attracts them to a certain location.

“Best way to get rid of an animal that is, you know, making itself a pest is to eliminate the availability of whatever resource they find attractive. So, eliminating access to food and also screening off or blocking access in the case of these pigeons, access to ledges, nooks, crannies, any place where they could build a nest,” she said.

The state says the product used by the company at the center of the investigation is called Avitrol mixed grains. According to the product’s label, it can be toxic to both animals and humans.

A representative for Oceanic says the restaurant has stopped pest removal efforts while the state’s investigation continues.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture says investigators still need to conduct a final review before the report can be released and any violations can be charged.