Almanac

Viewpoint - November 9, 2011

Letter: Owls are man's second-best friend

Here are some reasons to start thinking about working with Mother Nature, rather than killing her children with pesticides.

Did you know that a family of Barn Owls can eat between 3,000 and 5,000 rats in one year? Here in Woodside and Portola Valley, many barns and stables suffer from rats, while up in Marin County their handsome Civic Center had been overtaken by rats, as had many of the vineyards in Marin.

So, instead of putting out rat poison, the Civic Center in Marin County installed six barn owl boxes this month, hoping to copy the success of the 25 vineyards in Marin that have installed boxes. Studies in Canada, the United States and Europe have shown that rat poisons have contributed to the deaths of mountain lions, foxes, deer, squirrels, possums, bald eagles, golden eagles, hawks and vultures, among others.

Portola Valley Ranch has installed one of the Audubon Society's recommended owl boxes near its garden plots, and plans for the approved model can be found by contacting the Santa Clara Audubon Society. Happy hunting!

Marilyn Walters, Coyote Hill, Portola Valley

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