The Bald Eagle: Pest or National Bird?
June 26th, 2017 by Mike MacDonald in Pest Control Services
People are often trying new kinds of pest control and looking for forms of natural pest control. This can lead to some unexpected consequences, causing things that shouldn’t be pests to become pests.
When natural pest control goes wrong
Natural pest control can definitely have advantages, but in some cases it can cause other unforeseen issues. Asian Lady Beetles are sometimes used as a natural form of pest control in the battle against aphids that damage crops.
In most cases this natural predator can reduce numbers of harmful aphids. It could also lead to other issues as seasons change. A reduction of damaging aphids sounds like a great thing to protect crops. One overlooked consequence comes when harvest season has passed, and winter arrives.
As winter approaches, these beetles will now have to find a new home as survival outdoors becomes deadly. Unfortunately, pretty much the only supply of steady heat is going to be found in homes and businesses.
This can lead to Asian Lady Beetles suddenly becoming a pest themselves. Another interesting version of this happened with chickens and Bald Eagles.
Bald eagles and chickens
A farmer named Will Harris started to turn his farm into an organic farm. Instead of using fertilizers and pesticides, he decided to introduce chickens to his farm. These chickens started to feed off of insect pests, as well as create natural fertilizer around the farm.
This was great as it created lush grasses for his live stock, but there was a rather unique consequence to having all of these chickens running around freely all day. After a while a few Bald Eagles showed up on the farm and Will was excited.
Having a few of the national bird around was an exciting and rare experience. He was thrilled to see them frequently up close, in person. Unfortunately, these eagles quickly developed a taste for chicken.
One or two eagles eating a chicken here or there might not seem like a big deal, but news travels fast. In an exponential growth pattern, more and more eagles started to appear each year. The eagles now could eat or kill hundreds of chickens a day. Harris’s estimated well over $100,000 in damages and dead chickens.
On top of that, there isn’t much Harris can do to get rid of the Bald Eagles as they are a protected species. This is a rather unique case of what can happen when natural pest control goes wrong.
Other protected species that become pests
There is usually a very good reason when animals go on the protected species list. In most cases they should be there, but what happens when these protected species become pests? We saw above the case of the Bald Eagle becoming a pest to the natural farmer. Other species that are generally helpful, or were originally endangered, can become pests as well.
Honey bees are a great example of a very helpful insect that does a lot of good around the world, but in certain situations they can cause damage and become a pest. Honey bees do a majority of the worlds crop and flower pollination and have become an invaluable part of our ecosystem.
Unfortunately, from time to time, bees can build their hives in areas that can become dangerous for humans. These stinging insects are not only protected in many cases, but also are highly beneficial to humans so removal without killing them is essential.
Reaching out and having a local bee keeper get involved to help with removal of the hive safely without killing the bees is what you will need to do rather than trying to remove them on your own.
Ways we are creating our own pest problems
Another protected pest that was once on the verge of extinction that has become a pest is the Canada Goose. These birds were originally endangered and were placed under protection, but now with rapid urbanization they have become a pest in many cities across the world.
Thought to be extinct in many areas in the 1950’s a few Canada Geese were found and protection and goals of increasing the population began. Flash forward to the 1980’s and thousands of these birds were now being released across their former habitats.
These birds are still protected, but with lack of most natural predators in urban landscapes and lots of man made water and food resources these once migratory birds have become almost permanent residents in many places around the globe.
They are often considered pests because of their aggressive behavior, bacteria filled droppings, traffic disruptions, and loud noise they create. With how we as humans have created our city designs and custom landscapes like golf courses, with little to no natural predators, population sizes have skyrocketed causing many pest like situations.
It’s unfortunate, but with many attempts to go more natural with pest control and protecting endangered animals, we can sometimes actually create new pest issues as an unintended consequence.
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