Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

October 1987


Roosting congregations of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and several blackbird species (Icteridae) cause several millions of dollars in losses to agricultural crops throughout the United States. In addition, they are responsible for a variety of nuisance problems, human and livestock diseases, and human safety hazards. Dozens of tools have been developed for alleviating these problems, some of which are nonlethal techniques aimed at either roost dispersal or site specific protection of the problem site. Lethal baiting techniques for use at staging areas or at the problem site have also been developed. However, the most controversial solution involves the use of lethal techniques for killing the birds at the roost site. The seriousness of the controversy is fueled by several factors that are unique within the set of problems associated with wildlife damage management. First, there is the public's familiarity and appreciation of birds in general. They are ubiquitous and more often associated with urban environments than, say coyotes or field rodents. In addition, pest birds are not usually secretive or nocturnal like many other vertebrate pest species and therefore maintain a high profile in the public's mind. Moreover, when roost control is conducted, individuals killed within a short one or two day period can number in the hundreds of thousands, which is many times greater than numbers associated with lethal control of problem species of mammals.