Non-Chemical Vole Control in Berry Fields
Title: Non-Chemical Vole Control in Berry Fields
Principal Investigator: Sofi Hindmarch, Project Coordinator, Fraser Valley Conservancy
Duration: April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022
Field voles (Microtus townsendii) can damage blueberry roots, causing significant losses by weakening or killing the plant. The damage typically occurs in late fall and early winter when there are limited herbaceous plants available and voles feed on the woody roots of blueberry bushes. The effective management of voles requires an integrated pest management (IPM) approach that utilizes multiple control strategies, including vegetation management, exclusion, and poison.
The application of rodenticides can be an effective tool to combat vole damage, however, there is evidence that this has unintended consequences to non-target raptors and other wildlife. Most farmers are aware of the risk rodenticides present to non-target wildlife, but feel they are left with little other choice due to the lack of effective alternatives. The aim of this project is to evaluate the feasibility of a non-chemical, instant kill, self-resetting rodent control method as an alternative to rodenticides. This approach could give berry farmers the opportunity to control voles and simultaneously attract barn owls and other vole-hunting raptors.
This project will result in outreach materials and videos, on-site consultation, and presentations at sector meetings/workshops to provide the most current information on best management practices (BMPs) for vole management, including how to identify them and how to correctly apply rodenticides in a targeted and efficient manner.
- Assess the effectiveness of non-chemical, instant kill, self-resetting, bolt traps versus rodenticide for vole control in berry fields.
- Incorporate vole monitoring as part of the pest services provided to blueberry growers, test a vole monitoring protocol in the field, and provide guidance on how to refine monitoring and an associated management guide.
- Increase blueberry growers’, pest advisers’ and retailers’ knowledge of BMPs through dissemination of blueberry BMPs factsheets, outreach videos and one-one consultations.
- Engage "champion" berry growers, who will adopt BMPs for vole management on their farms and demonstrate the benefits to other growers.