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Pheasant and quail populations continue to drop in many regions of the U.S. Naturally, one major factor is the loss of wildlife habitat due to commercial and residential development. For more nature habitat information Visit these helpful websites:

Another reason suggested by wildlife biologists is the use of pesticides on agricultural land.

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How to Manage Pesticides to Minimize Harm to Wildlife


nfortunately, if you use pesticides, wildlife can become sick and die. A recent study in North Carolina showed that more than 30 percent of the quail tested were made sick by one aerial application of insecticide. Insecticides can make the birds neglect their young, abandon their nests and become more susceptible to predators or disease. An indirect effect is that herbicides or insecticides can reduce the food and cover that wildlife needs to survive. Usually game bird populations decrease when pesticides are

Š WindStar Wildlife Institute

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used extensively. They lower the survival rate of chicks, destroy cover plus reduce insect and plant foods. According to wildlife specialists, reducing pesticide use is one of the best ways to protect fish and wildlife resources. Using sound cultural practices reduces pest problems and, therefore, results in lower pesticide use. Cultural practices that decrease the need for pesticides include rotating crops, selecting resistant varieties whenever possible, planting and harvesting at the proper time, and using

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integrated pest management (IPM) techniques.

hunters and discovered that 60 percent had insecticides in their bodies.

quickly as possible after application.

Exposure to the insecticides can disrupt an animal's nervous system. If exposure is great enough, sickness and death occur. The nervous system may not return to normal for four weeks following exposure and the effects can be additive, if exposed more than once.

Herbicides Many herbicides are only slightly toxic to wildlife, but they can damage their habitats. Wildlife need food and cover to survive. When wildlife habitats are reduced on a farm, there is a tremendous effect on the wildlife populations there.

Insecticides Many organophosphate and carbamate insecticides are highly toxic to wildlife when they inhale the vapor or when insecticides make contact with their skin or eyes.

Nematicides and Fungicides Many fumigants, granules, and liquid formulations are highly toxic to wildlife and can cause death, while others, especially fumigants, are safer.

Populations of wildlife decrease when herbicides or mowing are used to maintain "clean" fencerows, ditch banks and field borders. These strip areas provide wildlife valuable cover for nesting, raising young, and escaping from predators. Consider leaving these areas alone.

In Virginia, researchers tested quail that had been killed by

Granules should be fully incorporated into the soil as

IPM is a farming approach that employs alternative methods of pest control, rather than relying solely on agricultural chemicals. With IPM, pesticides are used only when the cost of applying a pesticide is outweighed by the cost of pest damage to the crop. The "threshold" must be reached before chemicals are justified.


Read and follow the instructions on the pesticide label


Incorporate Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices


Never wash equipment or containers near ponds or streams


Use the pesticide least toxic to wildlife


Avoid spraying over ponds or drainage ditches


Do not use herbicides or insecticides on field borders


Minimize drift by using low-pressure sprays and large droplet nozzles


Fully incorporate pesticide granules, especially spilled granules

Š WindStar Wildlife Institute

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Don't use herbicides or mow unless absolutely necessary to control noxious weeds. And, if you mow, only mow during early spring and on one side of a ditch bank or fencerow each year.

WindStar Wildlife Institute is a national, non-profit, conservation organization whose mission is to help individuals and families establish or improve the wildlife habitat on their properties. For more information or for the name of a Master Wildlife Habitat Naturalist in your area, please contact: WindStar Wildlife Institute E-mail:

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How to Manage Pesticides to Minimize Harm to Wildlife