Comments sought for non-lethal repellant to stop sandhill cranes from feeding on corn

Sandhill cranes

The public can comment through Sept. 16 on a special pesticide registration that would allow Wisconsin corn growers to treat seed with a non-lethal repellant to stop sandhill cranes from feeding on planted corn.

The special registration proposed by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will allow field and sweet corn growers to use Avipel® Hopper Box (dry) Corn Seed Treatment. It contains the active ingredient 9, 10-anthraquinone, a naturally occurring aromatic compound.

Arkion Life Sciences manufactures Avipel®. With support from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the International Crane Foundation and USDA-Wildlife Services, the company sought the special local needs registration to address the problem of crop damage from sandhill cranes. Twenty-five other states also permit use of Avipel®.

Sandhill cranes dig in the soil to feed on seed corn, and can cause crop losses of up to 60 percent. Avipel® deters cranes from eating the seed corn because of its bad taste and laxative effect. It is non-lethal and effective, and there are no other comparable repellants available.

About three-quarters of Wisconsin's 4 million acres of cornfields lies in potential crane habitat, but the highest risk counties are Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green Lake, Jefferson, Marquette, Waushara and Winnebago, where 60 percent of the state’s cranes are found. In fields planted with untreated seed, losses range from 20 to 60 percent of seedlings.

The preliminary environmental assessment indicates that the proposed registration will not require a full environmental impact statement. This special pesticide registration will expire July 30, 2021.

For a copy of the assessment or to email comments, contact Alyssa Foss,, 608-224-4547. It is also available for review 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays at the department, 2811 Agriculture Drive, Madison, WI 53718.

Written comments may also be mailed to that address, ATTN Alyssa Foss. Comments received by Monday, Sept. 16, will become part of the preliminary environment assessment record.

The product is not currently registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Special registrations allow states to register pesticide products for special local needs, without prior EPA approval. Its previous special registration expired August 1.