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Pest Bird Trapper Helps Save Crops
A group of fruit growers in British Columbia has achieved great success in bringing their pest bird population under control, thanks to some inventive trapping methods developed by a professional trapper. These birds had previously been wreaking havoc by damaging millions of dollars worth of fruit and berry crops.  
  When scare tactics like falcons and noise cannons failed to solve the problem, the group chose a new approach. In 2003, they hired Robert Quaedvlieg to develop a bird control program, which ultimately has been responsible for the capture of over 83,000 starlings.
  Quaedvlieg and a small crew of trappers set up an intensive network of two kinds of traps. The 22 conventional traps they employed are 6 by 8 by 6-ft. upright hutches covered with hardware wire, except for a slot at the top where birds enter to access fruit left on the ground inside as bait. Once inside, they can't fly back out. Each one of the traps can catch up to 200 birds per day.
  The bird trappers also used five "drop traps", which are large 12 by 24-ft. frames, made from 2 by 6-in. lumber, with nylon netting fastened over the top. According to Quaedvlieg, one side of the frame is propped up about 3 ft. high with a remote controlled trigger system (made from a modified remote control door lock system) so the trap can be dropped from as far away as 1,000 ft.
  "Just last week, we had one trap that caught 1,023 birds in one afternoon," he says. "We dropped it seven times to catch that many birds."
  The drop trap has caught as many as 327 birds in one drop.
  Quaedvlieg says the traps are emptied by herding the birds into a flat wooden box with a wire cover. Non-pest birds are released before they cover the box with plastic and pump in carbon dioxide which humanely kills them within 15 seconds.
  "We freeze their carcasses and sell them to a falconer for 10 cents each. He uses them as feed for his birds," he explains.
  Quaedvlieg says he's learned some important lessons that have increased his trapping success. First, trapping starlings in late winter and early spring is key to major population reduction.
  Secondly, trap placement is critical. He says trapping in the orchards themselves is relatively unsuccessful since the birds have abundant fruit everywhere to feed on. He has much more success at nearby cattle feedlots, where the birds congregate to feed on grain and insects.
  Feedlot operators are equally eager to have the birds removed.
  Quaedvlieg uses fruit in the feed lots because it's different than what they're already eating and they like it better. He places the traps around the perimeter of the feedlot or in the alleys.
  Lastly, Quaedvlieg says setting traps to catch the birds during the morning feeding time has proven to be most effective.
  "Sometimes we leave a few live birds in the traps with food and water to serve as an attractor to flocks that come along and see them eating," he explains. "In Washington State, there is a 40 cent bounty on starlings, magpies and house sparrows to encourage people to control these populations. If you caught enough of them there, it could be a real money-making proposition."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Quaedvlieg, Site 35, C10, Keremeos, B.C., Canada V0X 1N0 (ph 250 499-7033).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #6