Tuesday, July 31, 2007

OvoControl P

Reid spotted this one at LAT: Hollywood turns to birth control to clean up its (pigeons') act.

Francisco Vara-Orta writes,

"Eager to reduce the neighborhood pigeon population and the mess that comes with it, Hollywood residents appear ready to try a new birth control method on their wild birds.

"Beginning within the next couple of months, a substance called OvoControl P will be placed in kibble in new rooftop feeders, say residents and state and local officials. The substance, which interferes with egg development, generally is viewed as a humane way to lower the birthrate of the birds, which many residents consider a

Not answered in the story is what this substance does to hawks who eat affected pigeons and what it might do to non-target birds who will certainly also ingest the stuff directly.

OvoControl developers say the risk is negligible: "Fortunately, the chemistry of the active ingredient assures that there is an extraordinarily low risk of any effect on a raptor. To have an effect, the bird MUST consume the bait – raptors enjoy fresh meat and fish, not OvoControl bait. Once OvoControl is digested and absorbed, it is no longer biologically available to another bird. There is effectively no risk of secondary toxicity."

...Except for hawks who eat stomach contents, which they occasionally do. On the other question they say:

"All avians are considered sensitive to the product. OvoControl has therefore been designed to limit non-target exposure to birds. There are five techniques employed:
  1. The bait is relatively large, suitable for a pigeon but not to the average songbird. The bait has low oil content.
  2. The bait is fed on a restricted basis—roughly 5gm/bird, or roughly 15% of the pigeon’s daily dry matter intake—at the crack of dawn, in the general vicinity of the overnighting birds. Experience shows that once the pigeons are habituated to the bait, it is consumed in 15 minutes or less leaving little opportunity for non-target feeding.
  3. Pigeons are flocking birds. Feeders are placed on rooftops where the risk of non-target exposure is limited.
  4. A daily dose is required during the breeding season. It is possible that a non-target receives a dose from time-to-time, but periodic observation by the applicator ensures that OvoControl is reaching the target population.
  5. Raptors will not consume bread based bait.

A lot of variables and qualifiers there. But given the chemical wears off and must be continually used, it is probably mild and not much of a threat except to pigeon family values. However, it sounds like a gold mine for the drug's producers!


Anonymous said...

I remember a somewhat similar initiative with some pest crop insect; large numbers of sterilized males were introduced into the population in an effort to keep the breeding down. I'm not sure if it worked well or not.

Is it completely cynical for me to think, however, that if some major Hollywood star endorsed pigeon meat as delicious, healthy and the secret to their good looks that we could curb their populations at significant profit?

Just sayin'

-R. A. W.

Rebecca K. O'Connor said...

Indeed. Haven't they watched Jurassic Park...nature finds a way!

I don't understand why they don't ban crazy bird lady from dropping twenty pounds of pigeon food on a dozen different street corners every day. We ban people from feeding parrots because they might get bit in SF (not because the parrots are an abomination to the natural ecosystem--which I might buy into) and allow the crazy rich bird lady to turn normal pigeon flocks into vermin by feeding them mass amounts of food. -- so birth control for pigeons and tickets for feeding the parrots. Yeah, I know. I'm moving eventually.

Anonymous said...

With the focus being on "preserve the BOP" lately has anyone thought beyond the length of a hawk wing what the long term effect of upsetting the "urban" ecosystem will be?
Right now the protected BOP is decimating the pigeon fanciers of So Cal. They aren`t eating feral pigeons,they are eating pet pigeons. They are eating songbirds too,if the bird flu wan`t enough if a strain on them.

Oh yeah, pigeons DO NOT get the bird flu. Scientists had to directly infuse pigeons with 1000 times the normal amount of virus to make them sick. They recovered in four days.

I do see dovectoing and ovocontrol as a decent method of controlling the feral population. Question is will the government reduce the number of BOP`s when the population is reduced or will they just let them wipe out the rest of the bird population? They are the top of the avain food chain. We know from biology 101 what happens when the top slot is overpopulated.

Species collapse.

Most BOP`s are supposed to migrate every year. Seemingly since the states have been coddling them most have ceased to migrate upsetting the natural balance in the first few stages of the game. More studies need to be done to come to some kind of conclusion to the BOP overpopulation which can very well lead to decimation of more species of birds than pigeons.

Hmmm makes you wonder...


Steve Bodio said...

Anonymous: I don't think humans are holding the raptors from migrating the way they do geese. What is happening is a small bunch of introduced peregrines and a big increase (unstudied and un- admitted) in urban Cooper's. The second species is I suspect the one taking a lot of tame pigeons.