Owls used in helping California vineyards get rid of rodents
A Humboldt State University team is attempting to prove that owls can be an effective eco-friendly option at protecting grapes from rodent attacks.
Graduate students at the university's Department of Wildlife under professor Matt Johnson have been investigating the impact of owls on 75 California vineyards.
About 80 percent of those wineries were found to be using owl boxes to control rodents, especially gophers.
Napa Valley alone has more than 300 owl boxes, which are designed to be turned into new homes by owls native to the area.
They found that an owl family in each nest can devour an average of about 3,400 rodents each year.
The graduate students monitor over 280 of these owl boxes across 65 different vineyards to prove that the owls do reduce the number of rodents, which haven't been conclusively achieved.
They have found that farmers who use owl boxes use less rodenticide..
According to Johnson, while it has not yet been proven that the reduction in rodenticides was due to the use of barn owl boxes, the result of their study is encouraging.
Johnson added that the ease with which owls are willing to set up shop on vineyards makes their effort worth a shot.