Date of this Version
Several years ago starling problems in cattle feed lots exploded to economic proportions. In 1964 one northern California feed lot operator reported a loss of $1,000 per day during the winter months. This resulted from daily activity of over a million starlings. Along with consuming and contaminating large amounts of cattle feed, the birds disturbed the cattle and prevented regular feeding habits. This reduced weight gains drastically. To combat what had become a state-wide problem, in 1962 a cooperative program between the California Department of Agriculture, the county agricultural commissioners, the United States Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, and the University of California was put into action. The early work consisted of field trials in feed lots located in Solano, Madera, Merced, and Contra Costa Counties to develop behavioral information and control methods. In northern California, McDougal's feed lot near Collinsvilie, Solano County, was selected as the field trial site. During winter of 1963-1964 the work consisted of bait preference trials and progressed to use of TEPP treated grain baits. This resulted in a calculated kill totaling 4l4,000 starlings. Pilot control programs, under general supervision of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Wildlife Services, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, were conducted at McDougal's feed lot during fall and winter of 1966 and 1967. The objective was to reduce the starling population to an economic tolerable number. To achieve this objective it was decided that, weather permitting, it would be necessary to have bait continuously exposed for starling consumption.