Assessing the economic benefits of starling detection and control to Western Australia
Taylor and Francis Inc.
The common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) has a proven invasion history in many countries, and at a continental scale in North America and Australasia. In Australia, starlings are firmly established throughout the eastern states and Tasmania. Incursions of starlings into Western Australia (WA) represent a significant threat to this State’s agricultural, public amenity and biodiversity assets. We present models of starling population dynamics that incorporate environmental and control effort variability. We incorporate knowledge of starling ecology with economic data to assess the potential economic cost of starlings establishing in WA, evaluating the cost–benefits for each management scenario. We calculated starling population size will approach carrying capacity in WA within as little as 30 years if left unchecked. A population of this size could cost the WA economy up to $43.7 million annually in 2011/2012 dollars. Over a 50 year horizon, the conservative benefit–cost ratio for ongoing detection and control at the current level of expenditure is 6.03:1. However, even under current levels of control, starling numbers are projected to increase to almost 11 million by 2061. Further improvements in the efficiency of starling detection and control and/or an increased level of expenditure on detection and control are required.