10/04/2013 08:47 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Invasive starlings captured and killed in Okanagan

Okanagan municipalities will continue to support a program that rounds up hundreds of thousands of European starlings and kills them in order to protect farmers' fruit trees.

The District of Lake Country is the latest municipality to sign up for the starling control program, which B.C. fruit producers started in 2003 to keep the population of the invasive species of bird in check.

Each summer, flocks of starlings destroy thousands of pounds of ripening fruit on farmers' trees.

Starlings are especially attracted to vineyards and berries.

"A pest and not only for the economic losses, but also the native bird species," said Greg Norton, a cherry farmer in Oliver. "They are very invasive and aggressive."

European starlings were first brought to North America in 1890 by Shakespeare enthusiast Eugene Schieffelin who released 60 starlings into New York City's Central Park.

Schieffelin wanted to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays to North America. As a result, European starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds.