Efforts to trap starlings in the summer of 2016 were largely ineffective. Photo: City of Abbotsford report

Don’t give up on trapping starlings, Abbotsford councillors urge

Ross and Loewen unimpressed with BC Blueberry Council wish to abandon trapping program

If starling trapping works elsewhere, Abbotsford’s blueberry growers should at least give it a full shot before admitting defeat, Coun. Dave Loewen said Monday.

The BC Blueberry Council (BCBC) says it doesn’t want to try catching the birds over the winter because it’s been told trapping will do little to limit the amount of damage to berry crops.

The birds are a perennial foe of Abbotsford blueberry farmers, who commonly turn to propane cannons as a deterrent. But those propane cannons are hated by many neighbours.

Unable to limit the cannons’ use because of provincial regulations, the city has tried partnering with the BCBC on a test program to trap the birds. But the first effort at trapping starlings in the summer of 2016 showed “virtually no effect on starling populations.”

The program had been initially funded with $30,000 by the city, but the BCBC instead got money from the federal government for the trial. Last year, the BCBC said it wanted to use the city money to try trapping the birds in the winter, early in the breeding season.

But on Monday, council heard that the BCBC had since heard that a winter trapping program wouldn’t work either, and that it wanted to instead use the money for education for growers on other ways to deal with bird management and to further study “the starling challenge.”

That didn’t sit well with Loewen, who questioned why farmers in Whatcom County and the Okanagan seem to have found success through decade-long trapping programs.

“I am disappointed in what we are being told by the BC Blueberry Council,” said Loewen. He said he had no appetite for spending money on those initiatives suggested by the blueberry council.

“I don’t believe this is money well spent,” he said. “I won’t be supporting the recommendation.”

Coun. Patricia Ross agreed with Loewen.

She said trapping the birds may not succeed, but said the whole point of the pilot program is to test the idea.

“It feels like we are giving up before we even try.”

But she added that the city can’t undertake such a trial without co-operation from the BCBC. Ross asked if success could be obtained through increasing the budget.

BCBC executive director Anju Gill, who was in attendance, was invited to speak to council.

She said the BCBC heard that “It was very clear to us that … we may be able to catch more birds, but the birds were more likely to fly back to Florida and other places.”

“It’s not that we’re not interest in the trapping program – that is not the case at all. But we want to use the money we have wisely.”

Loewen, though, wasn’t persuaded that trapping didn’t have a shot at working, and he questioned why Okanagan growers might be seeing success, noting that starlings are known to winter in that colder climate.

Council decided to send the issue back to staff to determine a possible resolution.

Just Posted

Aldergrove remembers generous spirit of John Jones

Aldergrove Athletic Park soccer field to be named after community leader

Field renamed to honour champion of Langley soccer

The public is invited out to a naming ceremony on Friday afternoon at the Aldergrove Athletic Park.

‘Respected’ teammate asked to lead Langley-based Vancouver Giants

Jared Dmytriw leadership on and off ice drove decision to put a ‘C’ on his jersey, coach said.

VIDEO: Young Langley singer shoots to dethrone veteran musician

Winners will be announced Oct. 21 at the Hard Rock Casino, and several Langley artists are hopefuls.

Police raid Langley home in search for ‘extremely violent’ murder suspect

Several law enforcement agencies were at a Willoughby home, hunting for a man charged with murder.

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Aldergrove Totem Nation: A Nation, A Community

Aldergrove Community Secondary School writing students talk about ‘connecting’

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

VIDEO: Woman files complaint over treatment of cat with two broken legs

Ariel Johnston of Abbotsford says her pet was sent home without pain medication

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Most Read