USDA National Wildlife Research Center Symposia


Date of this Version

August 2007


Published in: Witmer, G. W., W. C. Pitt, and K. A. Fagerstone, editors. 2007. Managing vertebrate invasive species: proceedings of an international symposium. USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Also available online at


European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are one of the most abundant and widespread bird species on earth. Introduced to Australia in the late 1850s, their highly adaptive ecology has enabled them to become a major pest. Concerns include public health and safety, economic impacts, detrimental environmental effects, and bird strikes at airports. Unfortunately current Australian control methods are ineffective and more efficacious, humane methods need to be developed. A feasibility study was undertaken of the likely risks/benefits of avicide DRC 1339 (3-chloro-4-methylbenzenamine hydrochloride) in Australia. This included a risk-analysis, a multi-industry survey and non-toxic bait trials to assess target-specificity. Results indicated that European starlings were one of three key bird species affecting intensive agriculture; there was strong support for better bird control techniques; and the risk to 82% of the native bird species recorded at the test sites was assessed as low or very low. Potential bait carrier trials demonstrated behavioral differences between United States and Australian starlings and hence the main application will initially be restricted to sites such as intensive livestock production facilities where starlings are already accustomed to feeding. Therefore, the project now aims to demonstrate DRC 1339 efficacy under Australian conditions and achieve registration.