Ky. man fined in federal court for wildlife poisonings

FRANKFURT, Ky. — A 56-year-old Todd County man received six months of home incarceration, a $50,000 fine and five years of additional probation for poisoning dozens of birds and wild animals around his farm in 2007.

United States Magistrate Judge E. Robert Goebel sentenced Donnie Halcomb of Allensville Aug. 20 in the U.S. District Court at Bowling Green for misdemeanor violations of the National Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources assisted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the case.
Halcomb applied Carbofuran, a pesticide marketed under the name Furadan or Curater, on deer carcasses to poison coyotes around the outside of his property. The poisoned deer carcasses not only killed coyotes, but also dogs, opossums, vultures and red foxes, along with owls and hawks. Federal law protects owls, hawks and vultures and prohibits the use of pesticides for purposes not listed on their labels.

"The fact that we are increasing our enforcement activities shows how serious we are about the illegal use of these pesticides," said Anthony Velasco, an ecologist with the Environmental Contaminants Division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Organophosphate and carbamate pesticides, such as Carbofuran, are extremely toxic in small quantities."

Carbofuran reacts with the body in a similar manner to nerve agents used in warfare.
"Dust from opening a bag of this pesticide can make a person very sick," Velasco said. "A lethal dose also can be absorbed through contact with the skin."

Carcasses laced with Carbofuran and other pesticides can cause clusters of dead animals when predators scavenge on poisoned animal remains. Pets often fall victim to this phenomenon.

"We are seeing these pesticides misused more and more," said Maj. David Casey, assistant director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "There are other alternatives for controlling coyotes. I wish farmers would understand the severity of penalties for misusing these pesticides."

Farmers having problems with coyotes can order a free DVD on trapping the animals from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-800-858-1549 during normal weekday working hours. Landowners may also e-mail DVD requests to: info.center@ky.gov.