Santa Barbara Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort bird feeders poisoned birds

The Santa Barbara Agricultural Commissioner fined Hydrex, a California pesticide company, for improperly using the poison Avitrol in bird feeders around Santa Barbara’s Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort to control a pest problem with pigeons and sparrows.

The Environmental Defense Center received reports between February and April 2014 claiming bird feeders at the Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort were being used to poison birds. The California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Santa Barbara Agricultural Commissioner investigated and concluded bird feeders contained the bird poison Avitrol with improper supervision.

The pesticide warning label states: “Avitrol must not be exposed in any manner that may endanger desirable and protected bird species.”

A couple who walked their dog regularly along Cabrillo Blvd by the beachfront hotel noticed and spoke with Hydrex employees earlier this year and were warned to keep their dog away from the poison. They reported the poisoned bird feeders to the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara.

EDC’s Brian Trautwein reported the poisonings to CDFW. “The hotel is one of Santa Barbara’s best-known resorts so we were surprised when we received calls saying the Doubletree is poisoning birds,” said Trautwein, an Environmental Analyst / Watershed Program Coordinator with EDC. “Birds are important to people’s quality of life. They are an important part of our food web, helping to control nuisance insects like mosquitos and flies. No one should be killing birds or putting out pesticides – especially without following the label instructions. We hope and expect that the Doubletree will stop its inappropriate and troubling practice of killing songbirds and using harmful poisons.”

Under the food and Agricultural Code § 11879, the County Agricultural Commissioner’s office has ordered the Doubletree to immediately cease and desist the application of Avitrol in violation of unsupervised handling and exposure to endangered bird species. Practices such as this must not go unheard not only for the protection of non-target species, but also for pets, children and loved ones.

According to Santa Barbara NoozHawk, the bird feeders were removed from Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort in June.

Fess Parker hotel general manager Matthew La Vine said he wasn’t aware of any poisoning of birds at the hotel, and confirmed the feeders were no longer there.

“If I knew we were poisoning birds, we would’ve stopped this awhile ago,” La Vine said.

Santa Barbara NoozHawk – Company Fined After Ag Commissioner Confirms Bird Poisoning at Fess Parker Resort

Source: Environmental Defense Center August 25, 2014.

August 25, 2014
Fess Parker Doubletree in Hot Water for Bird Poisoning
The Fess Parker Doubletree in Santa Barbara was investigated and found in violation of regulations related to its poisoning of up to roughly 21 protected and desired bird species at its Cabrillo Boulevard location. After complaints were filed by the Environmental Defense Center (EDC), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner investigated this matter and have concluded that the Doubletree applied a bird poison known as Avitrol in bird feeders and illegally used this poison with the intention to control pigeons and sparrows near the hotel’s rotunda.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Thank you for sharing the story. I had not heard of poisoned bird feeders before. I have seen a hotel housekeeper knock down a sparrow’s nest with a broom handle and was not sure what to do.

  2. @Sara – King City is my neighborhood of California in south Monterey County.

    At my wife’s school site there are numerous bird nests in the rafters. I loved the sound of the birds in the courtyard when school started last week. Peaceful coexistence.

    In Monterey, dining outside at the seaside restaurants usually means sharing your food with seagulls. They can be a nuisance, yet they are part of the seaside charm of being on the California coast.

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