What do you do if you are a Californian looking to control an exploding squirrel population in your version of Eden? Well, you encourage raptors to perch nearby of course. Such is the case in Contra Costa according to this piece from Mercurynews.com.
Contra Costa County is looking for help from predatory birds to control squirrels that are devouring fruit trees and digging up lawns.
The county has put up 20 raptor perches next to large squirrel burrows in Concord and Walnut Creek to attract hawks, falcons and eagles that could attack the rodents.
Experts say development in the county has forced these predators to find other places to forage, allowing the squirrel population to explode.
With regulations against the use of pesticides, county officials say they had to look for natural ways to control the animals. They will be monitoring the perches, which went up in October, for the next year to see if they work.
The project is being paid for with a $4,000 grant from the California Department of Fish and Game.
Lots of gotchas here. First, very few raptors are adequate squirrel killers. Second, with the state swimming in debt is this a judicious use of scarce dollars? Third, what are they going to do when raptors start crapping on their cars and taking an ocassional pet? Let me peer into the future at next year’s story…
Perch Program abandoned in face of public outcry
Jan 3, 2011, (Contra Costa)–The much-heralded attempt at limiting the number of nuisance squirrels in town was scrapped yesterday after the 199th complaint of raptor poop on a BMW. In addition numerous episodes of missing toy poodles have been reported to authorities who suspect roosting hawks as the culprits. Experts now say the program should be abandoned because the raptors are not killing the squirrels as originally planned. Said wildlife expert Ike Knowitall, "We thought the birds would get the rodents. Instead, they’ve been feeding on pigeons, parakeets and other easily grabbed pets. It’s a classic case of unintended consequences" No word from the California Department of Fish and Game on whether the money is to be refunded.
All the while a tried-and-true method stares them blankly in the face: a pellet gun.