Ban Use of Cruel Chemicals for Animal Control at Airports


Target: Mario C. Diaz, Director of the City of Houston Department of Aviation

Goal: Vow to cease using inhumane poisons and pursue only non-lethal methods of animal control at Houston’s airports

Recently, United Airlines embarked on a “bird abatement project” at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston to “reduce the health and safety risks posed by birds at airport property,” according to a local investigative news team at KHOU 11 News. Basically the airline, in conjunction with the Houston Airport System, hired a pest control contractor to kill hundreds of pigeons and grackles. The company decided to use Avitrol, a variety of toxin intended for bird population control that comes in the form of corn kernels. The manufacturer claims that Avitrol works by scaring flocks away, but in this case 20 kernels placed around the airport’s terminals and in a United Airlines maintenance hangar ended up killing hundreds of birds over a weekend.

Parking lot staff became alarmed when they noticed birds wheeling around dizzily and dropping from the sky as if drunk, wondering what could cause the birds to have seizures in the sky. At least one grackle spent an entire hour in the throes of death, struggling to move. Dr. John Hadidian, Senior Scientist at the Humane Society of the United States, and other animal activists have spoken out against the use of Avitrol, calling the birds’ deaths horrible and inhumane. Dr. Hadidian noted that a handful of local and state governments have outlawed Avitrol because it is considered so cruel, and that there are a number of non-lethal techniques that can be used to control bird populations. The Houston Airport System has defended their actions, but Mayor Annise Parker has announced that the city will look into its procedures for handling wildlife around its airports.

By signing this petition, you are calling on Director Diaz and the Houston Airport System to ban the use of cruel poisons like Avitrol. You are urging the Houston Airport System to commit to using only non-lethal methods of controlling local bird populations.


Dear Director Mario Diaz,

I am highly disappointed in United Airlines and the Houston Airport System for their role in causing the torturous deaths of hundreds of birds, whose only crime was existing in the vicinity of the Bush Intercontinental Airport. The Houston Airport System has made it clear that the use of Avitrol and other chemicals abides by federal regulations, but you have missed the point that hundreds of birds should not have to face up to an hour of seizures and suffering until their death, just because they are considered “pests” by some.

I am calling on you to ban the use of Avitrol and other cruel toxic chemicals in animal control operations within the Houston Airport System. I urge you to commit immediately to the use of only non-lethal techniques for controlling bird populations at your airports. Please take responsibility for the Houston Airport System’s actions and acknowledge that Avitrol and other such chemicals are absolutely inhumane and should not be considered appropriate methods of animal control.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: skinnylawyer via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Cecily Colloby. says:

    Has it not occurred to this braindead bunch that the birds will just keep on coming? Are they going to keep murdering them ’til there are none left in the country? Whoever thought of this method of controlling the birds should be force fed some of this poison and die a lingering and painful death.

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