By Connor Lynch
GUELPH — Wild turkeys are gobbling up neonic-treated seed, according to new research by the University of Guelph.
Birds eating seeds is likely not news to farmers, but concerns about neonic escape into the environment are what prompted an ongoing Health Canada review of two major neonics.
Looking at turkey carcasses from hunters in 2015 from across southern Ontario, the researchers found detectable levels of neonics in the livers of nine out of 40 turkeys. Samples were predominantly used from the region south of London, between St. Thomas and Simcoe.
The purpose of the study wasn’t to determine if the birds were consuming enough to harm their health or reproductive viability, just to establish baseline numbers for future research. Previous studies have found that neonic-coated seeds can cause health problems in small birds, such as partridges, pigeons, quail and sparrows, according to a news release from the university.
The study was prompted after a request for research by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, who were reportedly concerned about a potential threat posed by neonics to wild bird populations.
PhD student Amanda MacDonald said in a news release that hunters in southern Ontario had seen wild turkeys eating neonic-treated seeds, and in some areas had noticed a lack of young birds, and wondered if the two were related.