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Farmers Enlist Mother Nature in Rodent Control

Farmers of Israel, Palestine and Jordan are utilizing an alternative method of pest control: birds of prey. Owls and kestrels are now being courted with nests and plentiful hunting grounds, that they may serve as a "natural" means to keep the rodent population in check. Previously, rodenticides had been sprayed on crops to deter the pests. This proved fatal to hundreds of birds of prey - including many endangered species - that died after eating the poisoned animals. Quests for an alternative method ultimately led to a government-funded program encouraging the erection of nesting boxes for owls and kestrels - birds whose complementary hunting patterns result in 24-hour rodent control. A kibbutz, or farming village, in the Bet-She'an Valley was one of the first to employ this method in 1983. The practice has now blossomed into a partnership between three countries, multiple charities, scientists and farmers, in an effort to reduce the amount of chemical pesticides used on middle eastern farms.
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