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Biological Alternatives to Rodenticides

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Kara Foreman

on 29 August 2014

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Transcript of Biological Alternatives to Rodenticides

Total Rodent Numbers Found in Nest Boxes

Amount of Returning Raptors

Amount of Abandoned Boxes

Estimate of
Rodent-Caused Damage Yearly

Number of Eggs Hatched

Amount of
Nest Box Uptake

Number of Chicks Fledged

Number of Eggs Laid

Matrix for
Operates a migratory bird observation station on Southern Vancouver Island
Been monitoring the Norther Saw-whet owl since fall, 2002
Involved in conservation efforts for various bird species
Owl Pellets
Nest Boxes
Inspiration for our project
Damages to tree roots and irrigation lines
Raptor nest boxes as pest control method
Actively Increase Uptake of NSWO
Actively Increase Uptake Cont’d

Impacts of rodenticide
Raptor nest boxes as an alternative
Develop a matrix for success
Consider ecological sink
Install Nest Boxes Earlier
BTF used over 120 nest boxes
11 uptake events on low years
Upwards of 20 boxes
1 - Actively Increase Uptake of NSWO

2 - Build on Matrix for Success

3 - Promote Rodenticide Education

4 - Use Larger Raptors

5 - Implement Risk Monitoring
Actively Increase Uptake Cont’d
Help to avoid predation
Resemble BTF Poplars
Mixed feelings
Determine pattern
Measure changes
Actively Increase Uptake Final
Target NSWO
Gather baseline information
Regulation concerns
Environmental and economic effects
Environmental and Economic Effects
Assessed the viability of using raptor nest boxes as an alternative to rodenticide use in agriculture on SVI

Literature review
Nest box observations
Owl pellet dissections
Interview results

Unexpected Issues
Lack of target uptake

Damage from larger rodents, such as rabbits and rats main concern for farmers

Lack of available data on lethal rodenticide doses in raptors

Inexpensiveness and ease of use of rodenticides

Gap Analysis
On non-target species
Lag time of effects
Unknown threshold dose
Varies between as well as within species

Ecological Sinks
Potential but inconclusive
More research needed

Recommendations - Recap
1 - Actively Increase Uptake of NSWO
2 - Build on Matrix for Success
3 - Implement Rodenticide Education
4 - Use Larger Raptors
5 - Perform Risk Monitoring
Royal Roads University Faculty Associates
Jonathan Moran
Rick Kool
Barrie Agar
Dale Mintenko

Rocky Point Bird Observatory
Alison Moran
John Costello
Ann Nightingale
Participating Landowners
Royal Roads University
Saanich Seed Orchard
Mount Newton Seed Orchard
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

Bryan Kemper
Sofi Hindmarch
John Elliott

Thank You From Us
Couple weeks prior to nesting period
First week of February for NSWO
Watch for non-target uptake (Ex. Starlings)
Installing more nest boxes is advised to increase the probability of uptake
Install Nest Boxes on Poles
Continue the study throughout four-year cycle
Environmental Effects of Rodenticides
Unsuccessful uptake of desired species

Chickadee uptake in 2 nest boxes at the same location

Multiple starling uptake attempts

15 Barn owl pellets
28 rodents
14 shrews

3 GHO pellets
3 rodents

Rodents three times larger; hip bones and hind legs
Avian Expert - Ann Nightingale
Rodenticide Expert - Sofi Hindmarch
Little damage to infrastructure and goods

Larger rodents an issue

Content with current methods

$100-500 per year for damages

Potential low year in cycle of NSWO

Cycle not fully understood

A study of the complete cycle needed

Wood chips potential factor in lack of uptake at BTF; not issue in this study
Size of raptors need to be considered; assess risks
Differences in ecology between BTF and SVI

Threshold dose for target species

Resistance seen with SGARs

Brodifacoum and Bromadiolone

0.001-0.927 mg/kg Brodifacoum, 0.002-1.012 mg/kg Bromadiolone

Differences seen among type of species and within individuals of the same species

Lag time for lethal dose to take effect; risk to non-target species

Rodenticide levels in raptors consistent; more research needed


Open and human-modified areas pose most threat
No distinct conclusion can be made; little research done
Small scale project
Trial and error
Rodenticide concern

Factors Influencing NSWO Uptake
Risk of Ecological Sink
Effectiveness of regulations are yet to be determined
Complications with trophic transfer
Insufficient data
Cost of rodenticides

Prefer old growth trees; denseness varies
BTF in isolated location; unusually high uptake
SVI in more desirable location; many suitable habitats
Four-year cycle not fully understood
NSWO dependent on rodent population

NSWO may not be suitable
Larger raptor as an alternative
Impacts on non-target wildlife
Opportunity to increase raptor population
Gaps in the regulation
Why Do We Care?
Biological Alternatives to Rodenticides
Aves Alternatives
Kara Foreman, Michel France, Benson Ko, Melinda Lue
The Owl Nest Boxes
• Constructed of pinewood
• Left weathered
• White pine and arbutus shavings
• Hinged top with latch
• Drainage & ventilation holes
• Entrance hole
• Front of box grooved to aid young when exiting box

Boardman Tree Farm
Rocky Point Bird Observatory
Location Descriptions
Nest Box Placement
Owl Pellet Dissection
Nest Box Monitoring
Location Considerations
human density

Box Placement
north facing
little-to-no branches

mature trees & dense stands
edge of stands

dense stands
open fields
LOCATION 1: Mount Newton Seed Orchard
3 NSWO nest boxes

• Managed stands of: Douglas fir, Western Red cedar, Western White pine, & Western hemlock
• Property on large incline facing south

• Robins, crows, starlings, Red-wing blackbirds, chickadees, deer
• Rabbits, voles, rats, & mice → appealing!

pesticide sprays

LOCATION 2: Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse
1 Kestrel nest box

• Apple orchard adjacent to dense tree stand of mixed conifers
• Surrounded by other open agricultural fields

• Red-tailed hawks - don’t get along with NSWO
• Mice, voles, deer, rabbits
• Lots of starlings

near highway, starlings

LOCATION 3: Royal Roads Campus
Objective & Scope
Our Findings
1 Kestrel, 1 NSWO

(2 distinct)
• Kestrel: managed stands of various pines
• NSWO: Natural forested area, Douglas fir, cedar, Himalayan blackberry, ferns

• Red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures
• Mice, voles, rats
• Deer, raccoons

None directly. Pesticides from surrounding agriculture?

LOCATION 4: Saanich Seed Orchard
On phone, skype, or in person
Spoke with landowners, rodent control for RRU, rodenticide expert: Sofi Hindmarch, avian expert: Ann Nightingale
Rodent control practices
Economic & environmental impacts
Implications & public perspective

Literature Reviews
Researched consisted of background information

•Monitored weekly

• Recorded observations

Public Education
• Interviews suggest landowners receptive

• Unaware of rodenticide type & environmental impacts

• Health Canada recently updated practices and application
Recommend education of practices
Limit contamination of non-targets

• Understanding build up of these chemicals may make our biological alternative seem more ideal

• Incorporate guide/pamphlet about using biological alternatives into the BC Integrated Pest Management Plan

If straying from NSWO...

• Damage from larger rodents, such as rats and rabbits.

• Increasing populations of larger raptors, such as Great Horned owl

• Potential ecological impact uncertain
population decline of non-target species

• Address nesting habits
GHO don't use nest boxes
Takeover nests of other species
Constructing a wire nest

• Account for land use
Poultry farms

Larger Raptors
Risk Monitoring

• Ecological sinks info limited
• Advise caution
• Future nest box project:
blood samples measure pesticides
track populations with RPBO banding initiatives
• Grow knowledge database
•Improve understanding of risk



box in wetland area
• Dense stands of deciduous trees
• Skunk cabbage
• Vernal pools

box on hill top adjacent to deer trails
• forested area of Douglas fir, Western Red cedar, Scotch broom, Daphne

• Mice, voles, rats, rabbits
• Deer, raccoons

Barred owls, GHOs, wasp nests…

• Barn owl pellets - MNSO
• GHO pellets - Groussewood Plateau, Colwood
• Identified using bone sorting chart
• Rodents in area & prey size

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