Technical Updates

"Birth Control" for Pest Control

There are now four different contraceptive products registered by EPA for pest or wildlife control,

  1. OvoControl (nicarbazin) for pigeons,

  2. Zona-Stat (porcine zona pellucida or PZP), immunocontraceptives for horses (and many other large, wild animals including elephants, elk and bison),

  3. Gona-Con (gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)) by USDA Wildlife Services for white-tailed deer, and,

  4. ContraPest (4-Vinylcyclohexene diepoxide and Triptolide) by Senestech for rats.

Each of the contraceptives builds on unique technological platforms with a similar biological outcome - interference with the reproductive system to slow or stop population growth.

OvoControl at a Large Cereal Production Facility

Check out this month's edition of Pest Control Technology (PCT) magazine!  In the Bird Management section, contributing writer Christine Brazell reviews a report by Lynn Braband, Senior Extension Associate and noted wildlife biologist with New York's Cornell University. At a particularly bird-prone cereal production facility, plant management incorporated OvoControl into their pigeon abatement program.  Among other things, Lynn reported the following,"....within the last year, they are using OvoControl and have seen a large reduction in pigeons from dealing with hundreds to just a dozen or so." Pigeon-impacted sites typically benefit from aggressive abatement strategies to overcome larger flocks. A cereal plant is one such place, but there are many other commercial sites with chronic bird problems that can benefit from an OvoControl program.

OvoControl P Now LEED Certified

Based on US Green Building Council and San Francisco Department of the Environment guidelines, OvoControl P was recently classified as a "Tier 3" pesticide product.  This represents the "least-hazard" class and does not require notification of building residents prior to use.  OvoControl continues to collect certifications, endorsements and other accreditations as property and facility managers adopt the bird-friendly product for larger scale pigeon control.

Political and Social Resistance to Contraception

The most recent edition of The Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine included a paper by Erick Wolf and Alexander MacDonald entitled, "The Political and Social Barriers for Contraception in Pest Birds: A Case Study of OvoControl (nicarbazin)" 44(4S): S132-S134, 2013.  The peer reviewed publication describes the barriers preventing the adoption of the technology is certain pest bird species.

"Contraception Key to Controlling Pigeons"

   In a Letter to the Editor in the Montana Standard, Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick from the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, MT commented on the role of contraception in controlling pigeons.

July 30, 2013 2:15 am • by Jay F. Kirkpatrick

"I read with interest an article in the Billings Gazette (July 25) regarding the pigeon problem in Butte. What struck me the most was that almost all the “solutions” mirrored failed policies for pigeons elsewhere, and for a myriad of other species as well, and never got around to the real problem — reproduction.Trying to find relief through the removal of any “problem” animal simply exacerbates the problem. Unless you literally exterminate every pigeon in Butte, the residual population will simply keep filling the roosts and leaving behind reminders.Reproduction, folks. That’s the key to managing populations. And there is an excellent proven commercial solution for the problem of pigeon reproduction in the form of an Environmental Protection Agency-approved avian contraceptive.This approach has worked extremely well for pigeons in other cities and the broad approach of fertility control has worked well for wild horses, urban deer, bison, and even African elephants.Why it is so hard, for people to understand that reproduction is the problem?"

— Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Science and Conservation Center, 2100 S. Shiloh Road, Billings

University of Arizona -- School IPM Newsletter

The December Newsletter, "Pest Press" from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, is devoted to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for pigeons at schools.  See the complete newsletter at the following link, University of Arizona Extension -- December Newsletter Birds, especially pigeons, are drawn to schools and have strong site fidelity.  Schools and students at lunch represent a reliable feeding opportunity for the birds and reinforces the often chronic pest problem. Based on the fact that children are especially vulnerable to pest and pesticide exposure, schools are considered especially sensitive areas.  The University of Arizona Western Region School IPM Work Group, three other Regional Work Groups and the IPM Institute provide guidance and the leadership for school IPM practices, nationwide.  Based on its safety profile and ease of use, OvoControl® P represents an especially useful and cost effective tool for school IPM.

WebMD -- Bacteria on pigeons said to cause more diarrhea than Salmonella

Spanish researchers find two bugs on feral pigeons which cause illness in humans

By Nicky Broyd WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Dr Rob Hicks 22nd June 2010 - A sampling of pigeons captured on the streets of Madrid has revealed the bacteria they carry. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Acta Vetinaria Scandinavica found two bugs that were highly prevalent in the bird population and which cause illness in humans: Chlamydia psittaci and Campylobacter jejuni.

The study

Fernando Esperón from the Animal Health Research Center, in Madrid, worked with a team of researchers to analyse blood and enema samples taken from 118 pigeons caught using gun-propelled nets.The study found extremely high prevalence of bacteria which can be transferred from feral pigeons to humans. Esperón said in news release there was no way to tell if the birds were infected: “This leads to the hypothesis that pigeons act as asymptomatic reservoirs of Chlamydia psittaci and Campylobacter jejuni. These birds may therefore pose a public health risk to the human population.”Since the 1960s, Britain's wild pigeon population has been steadily increasing and feral pigeons have thrived in cities where they’ve found a steady food supply.


Chlamydia psittaci was found in 52.6% of the pigeons captured. It can lead to an infection that varies in severity from a mild flu-like illness to severe pneumonia. Campylobacter jejuni was present in 69.1% of the pigeons captured. It can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever and general malaise.Although there have been few reports of disease transmission between pigeons and humans the bacteria can be dispersed in the air as very fine droplets or dust particles, or can occur by direct or indirect contact through food and water contamination.According to Esperón, “Thermophilic Campylobacter species are considered the primary pathogens responsible for acute diarrhoea in the world. In fact, in many countries such as England and Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand Campylobacter jejuni infection causes more cases of acute diarrhoea than infection by Salmonella species.”

Article Sources SOURCES:Bio Med news release: Harmful bacteria carried by pigeons

Study: Screening for several potential pathogens in feral pigeons (Columba livia) in Madrid.  Article available at the journal website.