Sixteen hundred waterfowl, mostly Canada Geese, died near Etter, Texas, in late January 1981 from anticholinesterase poisoning. Winter wheat in the area of the die-off had been treated with organophosphate insecticides to control greenbugs. Cholinesterase (ChE) levels in brains of a sample of geese found dead were 75% below normal, enough to account for death (Ludke et al. 1975). The gastrointestinal (G I) tracts of geese found dead were packed with winter wheat; gas chromatography techniques identified parathion and methyl parathion in the GI tract contents. Residues of both chemicals were confirmed by mass spectrometry. We recommend that less toxic materials, such as malathion, be used on grain crops when waterfowl are in the vicinity of treatment.
Additional publication details
Organophosphate insecticide poisoning of Canada geese in the Texas panhandle