Barn Owls to the Rescue

Israel values environmental awareness in many areas, including farming. Some had problems with rodents in their fields. Thanks to the work of ornithology professor Yossi Leshem of Tel Aviv University in 1982, who theorized that barn owls-who can hunt up to 6,000 rodents in a nesting season-could reduce the rodent populations, which would also reduce the farmers dependence on poison.

Today, his theory led to the forming of the National Barn Owl Project, a project funded by the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, allowing Israel to have the densest owl population in the world. In agricultural fields from the Golan Heights to the western Negev stand 5,000 little white houses, called nesting boxes, which “have made Israel the leader in using barn owls as a natural, biological prevention against small rodents that harm agriculture.”

This also has reduced the amount of toxic rodent poison used in the agricultural sector. Yoav Motro, manager of the vertebrate department of the Ministry of Agriculture, explains: “The owls hunt rodents and that means less poison is needed. That makes farmers very happy.”

The Barn Owl project teams with experts around the world, including the Palestinian Authority. “Last year, experts from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel gathered in Jordan to discuss barn owls.” In Israel, the Barn Owl Project has seen rodent poison reduced significantly. “This fact is good for our children, animals, all of us, and for the earth itself.”

By using barn owls, Israel becomes a leader in science and ingenuity that makes the world better. Another wonderful achievement for the Start Up Nation.

(Source: “Giving a Hoot;” Diana Bletter; The Jerusalem Post)