The Fess Parker DoubleTree hotel came under fire recently for an alleged misuse of pesticides on its property. Hired by the beachside hotel, Hydrex Pest Control applied bird poison known as Avitrol on its grounds in an attempt to get rid of pigeons that swarmed near an outdoor eating space. Though no birds are known to have died from the substance, environmentalists say Hydrex failed to follow directions on the label, placing pets, protected wildlife species, and children at risk of a potentially toxic substance.
In January, a dog walker claimed she witnessed Hydrex employees sprinkle Avitrol in bird feeders at the resort. She said she reported the incident after an employee told her to keep her dog away from the area. Multiple people reported similar events to the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), according to EDC’s Brian Trautwein. The EDC contacted the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which sent staff to the property to investigate. “We’re not pointing fingers [at] the companies involved,” said Trautwein. “Our intent in publishing this is to make sure they follow the directions.”
At issue is the manner in which the toxins were handled. Although Avitrol is not typically used in the area, it is not illegal, according to Guy Tingos, assistant commissioner in the county’s agricultural department. But Hydrex employees violated instructions on the label by not retrieving the toxic bait before leaving the site, according to a report issued by the county department.
But Hydrex argues it first tried sticky glue cards and nets to get rid of the birds, which could carry diseases, said Hydrex spokesperson Kevin O’Connor. “We have a manmade problem of people feeding animals,” he said. “And we don’t have enough predators [to prey on the birds].” He contended that the company did follow the instructions on the labels and actually diluted the poison.
The full report was released in early August. It’s unclear how long the pesticides remained on site and if the Avitrol was completely removed after the first complaint was filed, the report states. Witnesses said significant birdseed was left behind once the feeders were removed, the narrative goes on, and a sample of it tested positive for Avitrol.
“Upon learning that there was a potentially toxic substance in birdfeeders, the hotel contacted its independent pest management company to investigate these claims and the hotel promptly removed all birdfeeders from the premises,” according to a statement from DoubleTree. “The hotel remains committed to environmental sustainability.”
The Agricultural Commissioner cannot fine the hotel, but it did ticket Hydrex, which has appealed the $2,400 fine.