Crows are eating my slug bait, what can I do?

Slug on gravel path in the forest
Photo credit: Alan Dennis
Q:

I have been using slug pellets to control the slug and snail population in the yard with great success. Now the crows are eating every bit of it. The moment I put it out and go inside the crows are in the yard eating it up. Have not found a sick or dead crow in the area. Any suggestions?

- Multnomah County, OR
A:

It will involve a bit more work on your part, but I would suggest doing a limited (like 1 night's worth) baiting in the evening, after the crows have flown to their roosts for the night. Doing so will maximize the chance that the pellets are available for that night's slug & snail visitors. Doing so will also minimize how many of the slug pellets get ingested by crows - or any other birds and critters that might be observing this pellet-stealing behavior by the crows. Although because I'm not a veterinarian I don't know what dosage of the main ingredient (iron) might eventually kill a crow, I don't think it's a good thing for them to keep accumulating. Additionally, some versions of the product and others like it now include EDTA, which makes the products even more toxic to mammals (like dogs). So in summary, I think changing the timing of your applications is the best way to achieve your goal of slug control while also minimizing potential exposure to unintended targets.

Dana Sanchez
Associate Professor and Extension Wildlife Specialist
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