Wild Turkeys In Ontario Are Affected By Common Neonicotinoids, A Study Revealed

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Common neonicotinoids pesticides that are thought to be responsible for bees and other pollinators populations depletion have been detected in wild turkeys in Ontario, according to new research carried out by Canadian scientists.

Researchers from the Ontario Veterinary College associated with the University of Guelph and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change reviewed the livers of 40 wild turkeys in Ontario. They identified that nine of these birds presented neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides that cover the seeds of crops such as maize and soya to prevent pests. The plants collect the pesticide compounds and disperse them via their tissues as they grow.

The scientists found two neonicotinoids compounds, namely, Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, both present in the livers f the studied turkeys, as reported in the study’s report, published earlier in June in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

According to previous studies, neonicotinoids are the culprits for pollinators populations reduction, especially in the case of bumblebees, and for the increased mortality in small birds.

Common neonicotinoids found to affect wild turkeys in Ontario

“The most recent findings on wild turkeys are of concern,” affirmed the leading author of the study, Amanda MacDonald, a Ph.D. student at the University of Guelph.

“No level of neonicotinoids can be good for any animal. It’s just how they are affected, but we already know they kill bees, insects, and small birds,” Amanda MacDonald added.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters contacted the scientists complaining about an unexplainable drop in populations of young wild turkeys in Ontario, especially in the regions where these birds were feeding near crops treated with neonicotinoids.

The results yielded by this study proved that wild turkeys in Ontario present traces of two neonicotinoids compounds, namely, Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, but further studies might be needed to assess if these pesticides are the real cause for the decline in these birds populations.

Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.


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