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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Proposed Framework to Investigate the Interactions Between Barn Owls and Anticoagulant Rodenticides in an Integrated Pest Management Program


Due to the economically and environmentally beneficial rodent control services birds of prey (raptors) provide, many property owners in North America and around the world install artificial nest boxes to attract breeding populations of barn owls as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. However, anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) and barn owl biocontrol are often concurrently used to limit damage from rodent pest species in agricultural ecosystems which could lead to secondary poisoning of these beneficial predators. Substantial global effort is currently underway to determine the efficacy and cost effectiveness of this IPM approach, while better defining the risk to barn owls from potential AR exposure. While these issues have received increased attention, there is little data describing the circumstances in which barn owls interact with AR compounds, as well as the potential sublethal effects of AR exposure in these settings that may hinder a barn owl’s ability to adequately control pests in agroecosystems. By incorporating research techniques that can relate AR application to barn owl diet, movement, development, and secondary AR exposure frequencies, we can begin to understand the nature of employing chemical and biological control together in an IPM program. To understand the interactions between ARs and barn owls in IPM, we propose that studies investigate the frequency and severity of secondary poisoning in barn owls that are providing biological control on farms.

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