How Does Bird Birth Control Benefit Other Species?
How Does Birth Control for Birds Benefit Other Species?
Birth control designed for avian species is the more humane alternative to killing pest birds such as pigeons. Yet, what about other species? It turns out that this approach may also pose fewer risks for the overall ecological system, too. Here, we explore how using poison for population control can actually have a larger impact on the environment, and how safer alternatives benefit more than just the species being controlled.
Poison & Its Far-Reaching Impact
In a March 2018 article published by Portland Patch, Audubon Conservation Director Bob Sallinger described an incident in which crows in Northeast Portland “were baited and poisoned.” While this is a common means of eliminating pest birds, it poses inherent risks. In this incident, at least 20 bird carcasses were scattered across several blocks, alarming the local public and potentially spreading poison to other species.
Sallinger explained that any time poison is used, the individual administering it must be a licensed pesticide applicator, and that the product is to be used in a contained manner. This allows for the proper collection of carcasses, which prevents poison from spreading to predatory species.
The issue with this particular incident lies in the fact that the poison was not properly contained. With crow carcasses lining the streets, it is possible that other animals throughout the food chain could have been impacted, as the poison may have spread to scavenger animals who fed on dead or dying crows. Hawks, raccoons, and other wild species are among the animals that could have been affected. Many conservationists feel that not only is using poison inhumane, but also that its inherent risks outweigh any potential benefits of a controlled pest population.
A Safer Alternative
Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, using pesticides must not cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment,” including humans and other animals (epa.gov). While poisons are still a means of controlling pests in industrial areas, campuses, shopping centers, and other populated areas, birth control is a safer option.
OvoControl, for one, is an EPA-registered, humane technology which interferes with the hatchability of pest birds’ eggs. Through treated bait administered during reproductive season, the population is reduced naturally and continuously. Effects can be realized within a few months, and studies show a yearly reduction of roughly 50%.
Most importantly, the contraceptive impact is limited to the bird species for which the birth control is intended. The active components are far too low to achieve the dose required for interference with egg hatchability in a secondary bird and will simply pass through predatory species unabsorbed if ingested. Thus, there are no risks of poison any harmful substance making its way through the food chain, and no animals suffer as a result of ingestion. Because it has no secondary effects in predatory species, OvoControl is considered non-hazardous and is advocated by Audubon, the Humane Society of the U.S., and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Of course, it would be ideal if overpopulation didn’t pose inherent risks in itself. Yet, an abundance of pigeons can cause health and safety hazards, and pest birds therefore demand an effective solution. The good news is that with birth control for birds, their population can now be contained without causing any further harm to the environment or the animal kingdom.1