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THE SMALL-BIRDS PEST

WHY POISONED GRAIN DOBS KOT POISON. Apropos to this question whloh formed the Bubjeot of a discussion m tie County Oonnol), and whioh hoa since been referred to editorially, " Inibttr," writing to the "NZ Moll^'snys:—

The principal method of destroying thorn (the Bparrowe) here is by the use of poisoned gr&in ; nnd no doobt m dia^riota where the farmers have acted iv ootiooct and appllnd th.maoKea In a body to a wholesale pole mug dome good effort has baon obtained The usual manner here is to poison wheat with s'ryohnlae and lay it abont the paddock", and it is claimed that onoe tho sparrows eu the poisoned wheat (hey quickly turn ap the tips of their toes.

The theory Is all vory well ; bat I with many o'hero have fonnd the eotn-il practice to be Bometlruea deficient. I will give my reaaona for thifl. The wheat, contains no doabt sufficient poison to kill the blrda ; In fact it ia usnally mido nf tnoh strength that one single grain la oatficlont to kill a cp Arrow. The fault it* noi m the wheat bat It is the manner of applying It that caused bo much failnre. If the poisoned wheat were Btrewn on dry, hard ground, and if the epirroWA would eat It within say a oonple or hoars after it hud been laid down, then we could rely upon getting plenty of dead uparrowa/ Bj', as it is frequently the oase, the poisoned wheat id laid down on newly-ploughed ground, and the natural dampness of the ground itself, the mlsta and daws of the night, dissolve the groatae part of tho strychnine from the wheat*

I have tr'ed thts oxperltnent I soaked wheat for 24 hoars In a strong notation of Btryohnino, and when dry I found that spmows, after eating » oonple or bo of the grains, died within » few minutes. I spread some of the grain on a newly turned up garden, and daring the night there was a fair Jtall of dew. Early next morning I tnrned some domeatlo fowls Into the garden ; they ate a lot of the wheat without auy 111 effect.

Now I believe from that end many other experiments that poisoned wheat laid on the ground Is rendered inert if it remains at leaßt 24 hours without being eaten To remedy this I propose that farmers who iulend using poisoned wheat should nv»ke wooden boxes com** thing a c ter tho wanner of a dovecot, that Is, a sqoare box, watertight, with a shelf In front and with a few boles or openings leading into the bix Inside this box the poisoned grain oould be stored In such a manner tint • sm»ll qjani y of the grain oouldalways be seen inside the openings. If the boxos wore nailed agtinst the sides of houses, barns or evon trees on a (arm, and daring the early part of the winter supplied with a 11: tie ordinary wheat, the sparrows would soou learn whore to lo >k for fc»d, and In tho 'bourse of a few weeks, when they got ftooustoraed to the s'ghfc end use of these boxfe, then poisoned grain oould be used, and I bjllove with the desired results.

A little ingenuity on the part of a man handy with his tools would enable him to make suitable boxen, taking tbe old fashioned pigeon house or deveoot as an example. Auywoy tbe exptzlment of making one box would not cost much, and I should like to hear the reeults from one who has tried it. There is another point to be considered. By plaolng the grain boxes at 'a considerable height from the Kround there Is an absence of danger to domestic poultry and children.

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THE SMALL-BIRDS PEST Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2130, 9 May 1889

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