Owls and Raptors for Rodent Control: A Glimpse to the Future.

By: Brian Beidle, BCE

February- 2024 Edition

Rodents were and are a constant pressure on seed facilities.  After service began in earnest, I was asked by the contact of a client “What else can we do”? This question was aimed towards how to further prevent and control mice and rats at this property.

This property has a history of having infested warehouses requiring fumigation to get control of them, however, this property has and does have lots of potential for IPM-style pest control.

One of the items that seemed missing from this property was the presence of a resident predator, which is effective on rodents. Misguided individuals at the property brought and let cats go, which now free room, and unfortunately are fed kibble, so they are lazy, and have wiped out all-natural predators that could be found.  With cats about, one predator could stand alone, and that would be a barn or barred owl.

Other natural predators, such as fox, mink, snakes, weasels, and American kestrels could also be introduced. The owl has a lot of potential versus these other animals, due to its nature of being nocturnal, fierce enough to hold off a cat, and able to nest up high.

Most owls, unfortunately, fell prey to second-generation anti-coagulant rodenticide poisoning. As such, moving to Bromethalin and snap traps only on the exterior, with a heavy prevalence of snap traps has been tried, and functioned for the last seven months.

The client also made two barred owl birdhouses and tree-mounted them.

Soon one owl was noticed in the September-October season after two owl birdhouse were installed and placed high enough on trees to be attracted. One owl pellet has been discovered at the birdhouse closest to the property’s northside.

It is yet to be seen whether or not the owl will find a safe refuge at this property and adapt to human noises and human traffic, however, where there’s a will, there is a way.

Barred owls appear to be one of the more adaptable species, and numerous throughout Indiana.

What else can we do for our properties? What else can you do to actually practice IPM and not just say you do??