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Developing a Strategy of Predator Control for the Protection of the
California Least Tern: A Case History


USDA-APHIS-ADC, 1942 South Court Street, Suite 2, Visalia, CA 93277;
USDA-APHIS-ADC, 223 South Oakley Street, Santa Maria, CA 93454

In recent years, predation has been determined to be a seriously limiting factor in the recovery of the endangered California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni) at many of its nesting colonies. Among them was a major colony at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base near Oceanside, California. Early management responses included fencing and intermittent trapping by base personnel, but this proved to be ineffective. In 1988, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal Damage Control Program was contracted to provide control of mammalian and avian predators. The development of the successful strategy that has evolved over three seasons is discussed, with emphasis on the development and application of techniques, and the timing and areas of control.
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