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LSU AgCenter teaming up with other agencies to fight blackbirds

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By: TODD FONTENOT
LSU AgCenter

As rice farmers prepare for planting, huge flocks of blackbirds threaten to eat the rice seed as soon as it’s in the ground, according to Todd Fontenot, LSU AgCenter county agent in Evangeline Parish.
Fontenot said that to control the birds, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the LSU AgCenter will be cooperating with local rice growers in a baiting program to control the blackbird bird population in rice-growing areas.
He said a material called DRC 1339 will be used starting Feb. 8, into mid-or late March.
Bait will be applied under the supervision of USDA Wildlife Service’s personnel trained in pest bird management procedures, according to Fontenot. “The program originated through the efforts of statewide rice growers associations and the Louisiana Farm Bureau.”
“Residents are cautioned not to eat blackbirds affected by the chemical,” Fontenot said. “Studies have shown that dead blackbirds do not present a significant hazard to humans or pets, however officials recommend against eating blackbirds found dead.”
A large percentage of the blackbird population is the black headed cowbird that lay its eggs in songbirds’ nest, often removing songbird eggs.
For more information, call the USDA Wildlife Services Office at (225) 389-0229.

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