Vertebrate Pest Conference Proceedings collection


Date of this Version

February 1962


We can probably say that the California way of farming has made California fanners the most over-run hosts to vertebrate pests in the agricultural world. We can certainly say, too, that new pests—and here I don't mean people--are on their way. I'm told that the starlings are just exploring here now. The relatives are coming later. We'll see, and hear, a lot more of them. Our problem is: How do we keep from being such good hosts to our small vertebrate guests? I have been told by experts that right now the vertebrate pest control man is woefully underequipped for the job we have created for him. For insect and fungus control, the pest control operator is a generation ahead. He has dozens of dusts and sprays on his shelves, specific ones for specific crops and pests, and new materials developed each year and tested by chemical companies and land-grant university researchers in the 50 states. When it comes to vertebrate pests, he reaches up on the shelf and finds just about the same equipment that was there 75 years ago. Strychnine was being used in the l880's to kill wolves on the western plains. How we have the anticoagulants for rat control. And there's compound 1080, though the restrictions almost make it unusable. There's not much else that's new. Somehow, perhaps as a tradition of agriculture, our animal and bird losses have been looked on as a sort of "act of God." We just shared a little with them. We're getting a much clearer look at farm economics now, though. The damage is clearly a serious leak in the farmer's profit line. At today's costs he has to stop all the leaks. There just isn't room for us and 1000 mice to an acre. Those of you who are in pest control professionally might well say you are in on the ground floor of your field. There is almost unlimited room in development of its methods, materials, and ideas. In the University we recognize, too, that here is a field that's barely tapped. We are gearing up right now, over on the Davis campus, planning a full-scale University approach. We have taken the first steps.