Students Take First Place in Division for Eagle Poisoning Project at State Regional Tournament

The North Salisbury Elementary School Destination Imagination (DI) team took first place in their division at the DI Maryland Eastern Regional Tournament held Saturday at Salisbury Middle School – the team’s project was about bald eagles on the Eastern Shore dying from carbofuran poisoning.

Though carbofuran is banned at the federal level, a state law that bans the possession of the toxic pesticide was never enacted.

The NSS Gamers team consists of Liam Wolff, 9, River Taylor-Davidson, 10, Apeksha Agarwal, 10, and Kyle Hammond, 10. The team manager is Beth Wolff, Liam’s mother.

The team began educating their community about the carbofuran issue in January at the downtown Salisbury location of the Wicomico Library.

Between 2009 and 2019, at least 30 bald eagles have died by carbofuran poisoning on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Cordova (2009 – 2 eagles), Easton (2012 – 2 eagles), Preston (2014 – 1 eagle), Federalsburg (2016- 13 eagles), Easton (2017 – 5 eagles), Cordova (2019 – 1 eagle) and Chestertown (2019 – 6 eagle and one great horned owl).

Since all of these incidents happened during bald eagle nesting season, it’s likely more birds died than those that were found.

According to retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Frank Kuncir, who investigated the eagle poisonings for years, a state law that would ban the possession of carbofuran would help law enforcement.

Beth Decker, executive director of Safe Skies Maryland, worked with Kuncir to draft a carbofuran loophill bill, had hoped to present it to Maryland’s General Assembly this year, but said it’s been delayed until next year.

“Carbofuran is banned to use, but you’re allowed to possess it, which makes no sense,” said River Taylor-Davidson, 10, during the team’s skit on Saturday.

The skit continued with the kids helping to get a new state law passed, which led them to proclaim, “the population of eagles grew bigger and bigger and we saved the eagles just in time.”

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