Pilot project aims to eliminate starlings en masse in North Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Pilot project aims to eliminate starlings en masse in North Okanagan

Starlings can cause millions of dollars of damage to agriculture in the Okanagan.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/B.C. Grape Growers' Association
February 15, 2019 - 3:30 PM

VERNON - While giant murmurations of starlings majestically swooping through the air might look impressive to some, to the Okanagan's orchard and vineyard owners the birds cause havoc and millions of dollars worth of damage.

A pilot project from the B.C. Grape Growers' Association aims to eliminate starlings in a more effective manner.

Association spokesperson Tyrion Miskell said the project to trap starlings in large funnel nets will help eliminate the birds is much higher quantities than has been done previously.

Miskell said over the last 15 years the association's project has caught around 835,000 starlings. The birds, which are an invasive species and not native to B.C., had previously been trapped one by one.

The new project involves the use of a large funnel net which will be placed on the outside of barns where the birds roost. The hope is that the starlings will then be caught in much larger numbers.

Once caught the birds are "dispatched" with CO2 gas, which Miskell said is a humane way of killing them in just a few seconds. He said the organization is very conscious of protecting other bird species and let all the other birds caught in the net go free.

The pilot project run by the Grape Growers' Association and funded by the Regional District of the North Okanagan and various other agriculture organizations is set to last for three years.

Currently, the association is looking for anyone who has a barn with a starling roost to come forward.

You can contact the B.C. Grape Growers' Association at 1-877-762-4653, email bcga@grapegrowers.bc.ca, or visit their website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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