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Organic Consumers Association

Owls Replace Pesticides in Israel

Owls and kestrels are being employed as agricultural pest controllers in the Middle East.

Many farmers are installing nest boxes to encourage the birds, which hunt the crop-damaging rodents.

In Israel, where there is a drive to reduce the use of toxic chemical pesticides, this has been turned into a government-funded national programme.

Scientists and conservation charities from Jordan and Palestine have joined the scheme.

According to the charity BirdLife International, hundreds of birds of prey - including many endangered species - have been killed in Israel through eating rodents containing poisonous "rodenticides" sprayed on to crop fields.

But scientists in Israel are now working with farmers to combat this problem - deploying the birds as natural pest controllers.

"There is a real need to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture here," said Motti Charter, a researcher from Tel Aviv University and team leader of the Global Owl Project in Israel. 

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