Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the 11th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. (D.L. Nolte, K.A. Fagerstone, Eds). 2005.


In an effort to reduce blackbird damage to commercial sunflower, which can range from $4-11 million annually in North Dakota and South Dakota, we evaluated Wildlife Conservation Sunflower Plots (WCSP) for efficacy and wildlife benefits. Blackbird depredation has caused some producers to reduce sunflower acreages and seek alternative crops in this optimal sunflower growing region. USDA’s Wildlife Services funded 8-ha units of oil sunflower (WCSP) to lure migrating blackbirds away from commercial sunflower fields. Vegetative data, habitat variables, GIS-analyzed land-use data, weekly blackbird surveys, sunflower damage surveys, and avian point counts will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the WCSP. Preliminary analysis of the 2004 field data showed that blackbird and non-blackbird density is significantly greater in WCSP than in commercial sunflower. Habitat variables and spatial landscape features are currently being reviewed in order to account for the difference. Under some conditions, trees and wetlands are significantly correlated with blackbird damage and abundance in sunflower. We further hypothesize that proximity to shelter belts, wetlands, cattail stands, other grain crops, and/or large commercial sunflower acreages influences avian use of WCSP.