Helping Barn Owls Help Farmers

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Barn owls are rodent-killing machines,” said Sara Kross, an assistant professor in environmental studies at Sacramento State University. “They are natural predators of gophers and voles which can be really horrible pests for agriculture.”

But as good as the owls can be at controlling rodents on farms, growers may still need rodenticides to control the population explosions that can happen with any small rodent species. Because rodenticides don’t kill immediately, barn owls can eat exposed voles, mice and rats and get exposed themselves, which may limit their ability to hunt and control pests.

It’s an example of one pest-control method affecting another, and something Kross and a team of students from the University of California, Davis and Sacramento State are studying at five different California farms. They’re looking specifically at the frequency barn owls are being exposed to rodenticides and whether or not that affects the pest-control services that farmers get from the owls as a result.

Read the Full article at the Western IPM Center.