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Pest Management


Keeping pests under control is a major municipal responsibility. It is the responsibility of Municipalities under the province's Agricultural Pests Act to appoint inspectors to carry out Pest Control activities as required. Pests are defined in the Pests and Nuisance Control Regulations of the Act. Locally the Agricultural Service Board carries out Agricultural Programming on behalf of Mountain View County, and has identified numerous pests and nuisance species under the Act that the County targets with specific programs.

Currently special programs are in place to cover rat sightings, Coyote Predation Management and Richardson ground squirrel. The Agricultural Service Board has several other programs in place to monitor pest levels in the County as well as newly emerging pests such as Clubroot and Fusarium which either currently do not exist in the County, or exist at very low levels. Monitoring programs are also in place to deal with pests like wild boar and grasshoppers. General assistance and information is available from the Mountain View County office for any other declared pest or nuisance.

Click on the links below for information on the following topics:
Rats
Coyotes
Richardson's Ground Squirrel
Clubroot
Fusarium Graminearum
Wild Boar
Protect Your Feed From Ungulates
Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network

For more detailed information or for questions on managing pest and nuisance species please review the information below or contact the Agricultural Services Department at Mountain View County, 403-335-3311.

Rats

Alberta is a rat-free province, and all suspected rat sightings must be reported to the Agricultural Fieldman at the County office at 403-335-3311 ext 184 or ag@mvcounty.com. Upon receiving a suspected sighting Agriculture staff will investigate to determine if Norway rats or other species from the genus rattus are present. To-date Mountain View County has never found a confirmed rat infestation. Muskrats and Northern Pocket Gophers are the most common species mistaken for rats.

Below are pictures of a Muskrat and Norway rat for comparison.

Norway rat and Muskrat Norway Rat Muskrat

Norway rat(front) Muskrat(back) | Norway Rat(left) Muskrat(right)

Click picture to view larger image

Below are pictures of a Northern Pocket Gopher.

Northern Pocket Gopher Northern Pocket Gopher Pocket Gopher Tail

Click picture to view larger image

For more information on rats, to test your rat knowledge or to review the history of rat control in Alberta please click to visit the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Rat Information website.

Coyotes

Mountain View County does not have a bounty on coyotes, however, the County does offer a Coyote Predation Management program, which allows for the distribution of restricted toxicants in cases of confirmed predation. The overall goal of the program is to eliminate predatory coyotes, but not a general reduction in population, therefore only cases with confirmed coyote predation of livestock are eligible for use of toxicants. Situations involving pets or nuisance coyotes are not eligible for this program. All other predation cases such as cougar, wolf, and bear are handled by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. The compensation program for livestock losses of Coyote Predation operated by Sustainable Resource Development no longer exists.

Richardson's Ground Squirrel

Richardson ground squirrel commonly known as "gophers". There are several control options available to Mountain View County residents. The Richardson ground squirrel is a burrowing rodent that spends most of its life underground, hibernating for up to eight months of the year. Natural mortality among Richardson's ground squirrels is quite high, particularly in males. As a result, the sex ratio among adults is about four females for each male. Females live about four years (maximum six), on average, while males usually live only one year (maximum two to three). Not all solutions offered will be suited to the scope of the infestation, and may not be economically feasible in some situations.

Cultural Control

Cultural control of Ground Squirrels has shown limited success. Some research has been conducted on the effect of tall vegetation on ground squirrel populations and movements. The data, while limited, indicates that squirrels may move out of tall vegetation stands to more open grass fields. This would indicate that overgrazing could intensify an existing problem. Once ground squirrels have been removed from a crop area, re-invasion can be substantially slowed by destroying their old burrow systems through deep tillage.

Chemical Control

Chemical Control options are the most widely used and likely will be the most cost effective for large infestations. The two most common acute poisons registered for ground squirrels are Strychnine alkaloids and Anticoagulants. Strychnine causes death by entering the blood stream and interfering with the central nervous system, resulting in convulsions and eventually respiratory failure. Anticoagulants interfere with the clotting mechanism of the blood and cause death from internal bleeding three to four days after the bait is consumed. Anticoagulants (Rozol) may require more than one treatment to be effective.

In Canada Ready To Use (RTU) Strychnine baits are legally bound by a maximum concentration of 0.4%. Rumors often circulate about higher concentration baits, but they do not exist. There is also much debate over (fresh mixed) "wet" and dry baits. Chemically the concentrations are identical. Wet baits are intended to be prepared and used within one week. Dry baits have a wider application window because they will not mold if stored for extended periods. If the ground squirrels consume either bait, the effectiveness will be identical. 2% Liquid strychnine is also available from time to time under an Emergency Use Registration from the PMRA. In 2013 Mountain View County will have 2% liquid available for agricultural use. When 2% liquid is mixed with grain the prepared bait becomes a 0.4% RTU product. The grain physically can not absorb more liquid, and therefore it is a myth that mixing strychnine yourself will create a more chemically concentrated end product.

Chemical baits are most effective when applied early in the season. Once an alternate food source has been established ground squirrel consumption of bait will be limited. Repeated baiting with the same bait during the same year is generally unsuccessful. Baiting should be done thoroughly and correctly the first time. Always carefully read and follow all label directions for products used.

Non-chemical

RoCon® was registered in recent years as a fumigant. It is essentially a mustard concentrate soap-based foaming agent that asphyxiates rodents when applied in the burrow. It contains no toxic chemicals and therefore is safe for residential/urban areas where control measures are limited. Further detail can be found on their website at www.roconrodentcontrol.ca

Shooting has proven to be perhaps the most effective method of control. When done safely and legally it is the most assured system for success.

Anhydrous Ammonia - While approved for use there are a lot of Operator safety issues to consider. Gas exploding devices using propane or acetylene have not proven to be safe, reliable or effective. Studies have shown these devices reduced ground squirrel populations by only 40 per cent and did so at a very high cost.

Clubroot

Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease of field crops such as canola and mustard but also of vegetable crops such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip and many other plants in the Brassicaceae family. Clubroot was declared a pest in the Alberta's Agricultural Pests Act in 2007.

Clubroot is a fungus that can not multiply without a living host. It infects the roots of the plant and as it continues to multiply within the root it causes the root tissues to swell. This leads to the formation of galls which are characteristic of Clubroot. The galls are quickly decayed by soil microbes, leaving millions of resting fungal spores in the soil. These resting spores are extremely long lived, with a half-life of about 4 years, but they can survive in soil for up to 20 years. Severely infected roots of canola cannot transport sufficient water and nutrients to support the plant. Research has shown the percentage of infected plants will result in half of that percentage in yield loss, for example if 20% of the plants are infected there will be a 10% yield loss.

Growers and any land users such as surveyors, seismic operators, recreationalists, etc., need to be vigilant and diligent in removing potentially contaminated soil from equipment prior to leaving fields, to prevent the introduction of Clubroot to clean fields. Equipment coming from Clubroot infected areas should further be disinfected with a 1-2% bleach solution.

Canola rotations should be 1 in 4 to prevent propagation of potentially introduced spores. The extended rotation away from canola must also include diligent control of host species susceptible to Clubroot including volunteer canola and weeds in the Brassicaceae family.

Use direct seeding and other soil conservation practices to reduce erosion. Reducing the amount of tillage will reduce the spread of the spores within the field and to other fields. Resting spores may also readily move in soil transported by wind or water erosion. Avoid the use of straw, hay or green feed, silage and manure from infested or suspicious areas. Clubroot spores may survive through the digestive tracts of livestock.

Please view the control measures specified in the Alberta Clubroot Management Plan, which are the minimum standard that is to be applied in all municipalities across the province. The Mountain View County Clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae) Management policy became effective March 26, 2007 and the Procedures state:

1. Random Field inspections throughout the County will be conducted by the Agricultural Fieldman or designated Pest Inspectors appointed by Mountain View County.

2. Inspectors will attempt to notify land owners as a courtesy, but as per the Agricultural Pests Act, notification is not necessary to enter on to private property to conduct inspections.

3. Inspectors will follow procedures set out by the Agricultural Fieldman on proper sampling techniques and protocol for entering upon land. Best Management Practices will be followed to ensure inspections do not become a source of spreading the disease. The Agricultural Fieldman will maintain current Clubroot Inspection Guidelines for staff.

4. Positive identification of Clubroot shall be confirmed by a laboratory test (PCR).

5. When land is verified positive for Clubroot the landowner will be notified in writing with a legal notice under the Province of Alberta Agricultural Pests Act.

6. When an infection is found, the current crop may be harvested, but all residues from the crop shall not be retained for further use or moved off of the property. Future crop residues will be dealt with at the time the notice is issued.

7. The notice will prohibit the growth of host crops during the next 4 crop years. Following 4 non host crop years Canola or other Clubroot susceptible crops may be re-introduced into the rotation.

Within Alberta there are 24 counties/municipalities and the City of Edmonton that have confirmed cases of clubroot. For a map of the Clubroot infested areas please see the Government of Albert Agriculture and Rural Development link for Clubroot Infested Areas in Alberta in 2013. Mountain View County does not have any confirmed or suspected cases of Clubroot but still must remain vigilant in preventing the disease from entering our County.

Mountain View County is trying to protect its canola producers from Clubroot with our Equipment Cleaning Requirements Prior to Municipal Entry policy. This Policy States:

Mountain View County requires that any equipment brought in from outside the County be cleaned and free of soil and debris prior to entry. Pressure washing equipment will be adequate to achieve this in most circumstances. If the equipment is coming from a municipality known to be infected with Clubroot, the equipment should be further disinfected to minimize any potential liability concerns. Equipment moving between projects within the County should be free of soil and debris. Movement within the County only requires hand cleaning to remove loose soil and debris unless specified otherwise by the landowner. If Clubroot is found within our municipality, cleaning requirements for movement within the County may change.

It is important to keep in mind that equipment sanitation serves many purposes. Proper sanitation procedures will assist in preventing the spread of invasive species, Clubroot and other soil borne diseases.

Further information on cleaning equipment can be found on Alberta Agricultures website under the title Best Management Practices for Disinfesting Farm Machinery and Equipment to Prevent the Spread of Clubroot.

These Requirements apply to everyone involved in transporting equipment. Including but not limited to, Agriculture, Oil and Gas Industry, Utility companies, Private Contractors and Municipal Equipment.

For more information on management please see the Government of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development link for Clubroot Disease of Canola and Mustard.

Fusarium Graminearum

Fusarium Graminearum is a seed borne pathogen and infected seed or feed grain represents the greatest risk of introducing Fusarium Graminearum in quantities sufficient to cause disease development.

Key Management Strategies
•There is a zero tolerance for the presence of Fusarium Graminearum in cereal grain intended for use as seed. All grain used for seed must be tested and found to be free of Fusarium Graminearum. It is further reccommended that seed be treated with a registered fungicide, prior to planting, that includes the genus Fusarium on the label list of fungi that are controlled.
•All out of province feed grain should be tested and certified to be free of Fusarium graminearum before entering the Province.
•All feed material must be handled responsibly (best management practices), such that the opportunity for Fusarium Graminearum infected material to contact the soil is minimized. Any infected spilled grain or feed material must be collected and composted.
•There is zero tolerance for field infections of Fusarium Graminearum. Infected crops will be salvaged immediately, and the field must be taken out of cereal production for three years.

For more information visit the Government of Alberta website for Fusarium Head Blight of Barley and Wheat and the Alberta Fusarium graminearum Management Plan.

Wild Boars

In 2008, 'Wild Boars at large' were declared a pest under the Agricultural Pests Act.

Wild Boars can be identified by their dark brown or black coat and coarse light hair on the head and mane. The Wild Boar's tail is straight, the ears are hairy and erect. They have a larger head and longer snout than domestic hogs.

If you see a Wild Boar at large within Mountain View County please contact the Agriculture Department at 403-335-3311 or ag@mvcounty.com.

Guard against ungulate depredation

Fall is the time of year for animals to start preparing for winter. With high numbers of deer, elk and moose in many areas of the province, agricultural producers are reminded to take steps to prevent damage to stored hay and feed.

Producers can reduce or eliminate ungulate damage over the winter with these preventative measures.
•Move bales from the field to a feed yard or protected storage area.
•Use straw bales as a protective barrier for feed stores.
•Fencing can be more effective if bales are stacked two tiers high.
•Use fencing or place posts before freeze up to prepare permanent stack-yard sites.
•Store grain only in protective storage bins.
•Monitor stored feed and promptly chase ungulates from feed stores.

The Alberta government assists producers in protecting stacked and stored feed through the Ungulate Damage Prevention Program. Limited supplies of temporary fences are available. For more information, please contact your nearest Alberta Sustainable Resource Development office by phoning, toll free, 310-0000.

Allowing access for hunting on your land can also reduce damage caused by deer and elk. Please refer to the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations for further details.

(Information courtesy of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development)

Please click the link to view the Prevent Ungulate Damage tips document.

Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network

The Agricultural Department also assists Alberta Agriculture in many of their disease and insect pest monitoring programs. We have participated in diamondback moth, bertha armyworms, pea leaf weevil, wheat midge and grasshopper count surveys, as well as sampling for clubroot and fusarium.

Please click the following links to view the results of the surveys on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network website. Many of the survey results are used to create a forecast map for the following year based on this year's populations.
2014 Wheat Midge Forecast
2014 Bertha Armyworm Forecast
2013 Diamondback Moth Forecast
2014 Grasshopper Forecast
2014 Pea Leaf Weevil Forecast

 If you are interested in participating in any of surveys or for further information please contact the Agricultural Department at 403-335-3311 ext 184.

Community Calendar At A Glance

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