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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Wildlife conservation sunflower plots as a dual-purpose wildlife management strategy

  • Author(s): Linz, George M.
  • Schaaf, Dionn A.
  • Mastrangelo, Philip
  • Homan, H. Jeffrey
  • Penry, Linda B.
  • Bleier, William J.
  • et al.

The National Sunflower Association has identified blackbird damage as a key reason for growers to abandon sunflower. In the 1980s, National Wildlife Research Center scientists showed that “decoy” plantings of sunflower can significantly reduce bird damage to nearby commercial sunflower fields. For a variety of reasons, largely logistical and economic in nature, decoy sunflower fields did not become wide-spread. Over the last decade, new federal farm programs have placed more emphasis on wildlife conservation. Thus, decoy sunflower fields planted to ameliorate blackbird damage and establish habitat for wildlife might garner broad support from both agricultural and conservation groups. We present preliminary data on avian use of ripening sunflower fields that support the notion of “Wildlife Conservation Sunflower Plots” (WCSP) as a broad-based dual-purpose wildlife management strategy. We also outline research plans designed to refine the concept of WCSP.

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