Arsenic in woodpeckers

Wildlife News

In today's Sun, Larry Pynn reported that woodpeckers in BC carry high levels of arsenic. The source is an arsenic compound (MSMA) used in BC in the recent past in a bid to reduce outbreaks of mountain pine beetle. Two scientific papers published by Christy Morrissey and her colleagues showed that BC woodpeckers forage on treated trees, they carried high, but variable amounts of MSMA, and that significant amounts of arsenic were transferred into the food chain. Other studies have shown that the toxin results in loss of weight of adult birds and increases the mortality of nestlings. Studies on the effect of MSAM on the size of woodpecker populations have not been done but the authors say that a combination of salvage logging and MSMA treatment is likely detrimental. Woodpeckers are one of nature's best predators on insects - they are drawn to infestations where they eat a lot of beetles and other insects.

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/birdwatch/default.aspx



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