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Unwanted and unintended effects of culling: a case for ecologically-based rodent management

posted Aug 26, 2010, 8:47 PM by IRRC Coordination Unit   [ updated Oct 12, 2014, 8:43 PM by Isabella Mari Jhocson ‎(IRRI)‎ ]


In this study, the ecological effects of culling programs are considered in the context of rodent pest management.
Despite the escalation of rodent problems globally, over the past quarter of a century there have not been many new
developments in culling programs directed at managing these populations. There is a strong reliance on broad scale
use of chemical rodenticides or other lethal methods of control. The ecological consequences of culling programs based on chemical rodenticides and bounty systems are considered. Although rodents cause tremendous economic hardship to people on a continental scale, usually less than 10% of species cause substantial impacts. Indeed, many species of rodent provide important “ecological services” and, given that culling programs rarely distinguish between rodent species, often the non-pest rodents are at grave risk. Rodent control is conducted with little appreciation of what proportion of the population would need to be culled for a significant reduction in economic damage. In Indonesian rice fields, once rodent densities are high then a reduction in yield loss from 30% to 15% would require more than 75% of the population to be culled; a reduction to less than 5% yield loss would require more than a 95% cull. The negative ecological consequences of culling can be better managed if the method is specifically tailored to the species that need to be managed. A greater emphasis on ecologically-based rodent management would assist markedly in reducing the unwanted and unintended effects of culling.

Keywords: bounty systems, culling, ecological effects, rodenticides, rodents.

Citation: Singleton GR, Brown PR, Jacob J, Aplin KP, Sudarmaji. 2007. Unwanted and unintended effects of culling: a case for ecologically-based rodent management. Integrative Zoology 2, 247-259.