Wildlife pests of California agriculture: Regional variability and subsequent impacts on management

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Crop Protection

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Numerous wildlife species are known pests of California agriculture. Effective management of these pests is required to maximize agricultural production, yet it is unclear how the importance of various wildlife pest species and associated management strategies may vary regionally throughout California. Accounting for these regional differences should yield management programs that are specifically tailored to the regions constituents and should be considered when managing wildlife pests at a more localized level. Therefore, we developed a survey to provide quantitative data on regional differences in research and management needs to better guide future research efforts in developing more effective, practical, and appropriate methods for managing wildlife pests. We found that coyotes were a more common pest in the mountain region, ground squirrels were a greater concern in the central and desert valley region, while birds were most commonly listed as pests by individuals working in multiple regions of California. Coyote damage varied regionally, with livestock depredation the greatest concern throughout most of California, although damage to irrigation tubing and sprinklers was of equal concern in the central and desert valley region. For bird pests, exclusionary devices were the most common and most effective methods of control in the coastal region. Frightening devices were the most commonly used method for bird control in all other regions, although the efficacy associated with frightening devices was considered far lower than their level of use, suggesting that better management options are needed for bird control in these regions. For all wildlife pests, nonlethal control options (e.g., exclusionary devices, habitat modification) were generally preferred in the coastal region while lethal removal options ranked higher in the central and desert valley region (e.g., baiting, burrow fumigation). Efficacy was considered the most important attribute of a control method for all regions, while Integrated Pest Management programs were considered the most effective method for controlling wildlife pests in all regions except for the central and desert valley region. Collectively, the importance of wildlife pests and the perception of associated control methods varied throughout California and reflects the need to consider these regional differences in order to optimize damage management strategies at the regional level.

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