Vertebrate Pest Conference Proceedings collection


Date of this Version

March 1967


The purpose of this experiment was to test the application of a biochemical method proposed to control the hatching of herring gull (Larus argentatus) eggs in a wild population. Sophistication was considered in terms of practicality, effectiveness, selectivity, economy, humaneness, remote application and hazards to and in the environment. The herring gull, which at the turn of the century was unknown as a breeding bird in northeastern United States, now nests abundantly along the Atlantic coast as far south as Virginia. Its phenomenal increase in numbers has resulted in conflicts with several human interests, including competition with other desirable nesting bird species, navigational hazards at airports, and the desecration of coastal property. Northeasterners, however, are by no means blind to the aesthetic and other values of the herring gull and there are few who would tolerate the outright slaughter of the over-population. In order to come to grips with this delicate problem in Massachusetts we reviewed the current knowledge about inhibition of avian reproduction (Wetherbee et _al_., 1962), developed some philosophies of avian biological control (Wetherbee, 1966), discovered the anti-fertility effects of a biological stain, Sudan Black (Wetherbee et a!., 1964), and in 1966 tested the use of this compound in a large-scale ecological experiment on Muskeget Island, Massachusetts.