The United States Army went into action on home ground on Thursday (20 February)....against millions?
The United States Army went into action on home ground on Thursday (20 February)....against millions of birds roosting around Fort Campbell Army base in western Kentucky.
In what was described as a limited operation, the birds -- including blackbirds, starlings and grackles -- were sprayed with a detergent liquid from helicopters to wash away the protective oil from the birds' feathers. In the second stage of the engagement, fire-engines sprayed the area with water.
With the natural oils washed away, the birds died of exposure as the temperature dropped. Army sources estimated the casualty toll at around half-a-million.
The operation -- which was opposed by environmental groups who tried to obtain a court order to prevent it taking place -- will eventually be carried out over 30 acres (12 hectares) of woodlands around the Army base.
Local and Army officials estimate that the birds have caused 2.6 million U.S. dollars (over 1 million pounds sterling) worth of damage in the area, swooping in black clouds on to farms and cattle feed. The birds have also been blamed for the spread of histoplasmosis -- a human respiratory complaint -- and other diseases of affecting livestock.