Bird Scarers - the NFU Code of Practice
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(scanned from the NFU Leaflet)
Bird scarers and bird deterrents are essential to protect certain
crops. Used thoughtlessly they can seriously annoy and disturb the public thus
fuelling the pressure for strict legal controls, or a ban, on their use.
Just a few inconsiderate actions could threaten the ability
of all growers to protect their crops in future.
So follow this code which is designed to minimise public aggravation
whilst allowing effective crop protection.
Types Of Scarer
Auditory: These may imitate the sound of gunfire, use
sirens or a constant hum, or mimic the distress call of the bird.
Visual: These rely on the birds' fear of other, predatory, birds or
humans and of sudden movements.
Some scarers and deterrents combine sound and visual stimuli.
Take great care when using auditory scarers
Reducing The Need For Scarers
It may be possible to reduce the need for scarers and increase the effectiveness
of those used by:
- Planting (where your crop rotation allows)crops vulnerable to bird damage
next to roads or in other locations where the birds will be disturbed.
- Alternatively, when planning new areas of valuable crops (particularly orchards
or soft fruit areas) try and locate them as far away from buildings where
people sleep or where quiet is important, so that if it is necessary to resort
to the use of auditory scarers their impact will be minimised.
- Growing small-scale crops under netting. Fencing or electrified netting
car protect crops near water- courses from swans or geese. Strings or tape
suspended roughly 50 metres apart may prevent waterfowl flying into crops.
- Use as many different types of effective scarers as you can. Birds quickly
get used to scarers, so do riot use more than one of the same type.
- Remember the intended location. Only use auditory scarers as a last resort
after trying alternati ves. Never use noisy scarers near buildings where people
sleep or where quiet is important. Do not site scarers prone to theft where
they can be easily stolen.
Using Scarers of All Types
- Use scarers as infrequently as possible. Determine when the crop is most
vulnerable and use scarers only then. However, if geese are seen near a crop,
scarers should be positioned immediately.
- Prolong the effectiveness of a scarer by moving it as often as you can.
- As soon as a scarer loses effectiveness, replace it with another of a different
type, otherwise it could signal a good feeding area.
Using Auditory Scarers
- Use auditory scarers only when their use can be justified.
- Think carefully about the use of propane gas guns. Inconsiderate use may
lead to complaints and you may have to appear in court.
- Do not fire them more than four times in any one hour. Birds can take much
more than 15 minutes to regroup. If the intervals are too short, the birds
will quickly get used to the scarer. All the reports from a multiple chamber
gun should count as one report if heard within 30 seconds.
- Never use auditory scarers before sunrise or after sunset.
- Liaise with neighbouring farmers to ensure that you avoid frequent bangs
in any one locality.
Avoid Causing A Nuisance
- Do not let the noise from scarers affect near by hospitals, homes or schools
(when in use). Place the scarers as far away as practicable, align them to
point away from neighbours, and use baffles.
- Avoid using scarers within at least 200m (220 yards) of sensitive buildings
before 7.00 am, or before 6.00 am elsewhere, when sunrise is earlier. Use
another method in the early morning.
Angle walls at about 45%
- Take account of the prevailing wind when siting scarers. Remember that noise
travels much further downwind.
- Where mechanical timers are used, ensure that they are regularly re-set
to take account of continuous changes in sunrise and sunset times.
- Where a photo-electric cell controls the guns' operation, ensure that this
is kept clean and free from obstruction. Preferably ensure that the photo
electric switch is backed up by a mechanical timer in the event of the former
- Use reflective or absorbent baffles (of say corrugated iron or straw bales)
to concentrate the sound on to your field and away from neighbours wherever
nuisance could be caused. These can be very effective in reducing noise levels
in the required direction. See diagram below for suitable arrangement.
- Try not to use auditory scarers on Sundays. Try another type of scarer instead.
- Ensure that your neighbours have the name of a responsible person to contact
if the control on a scarer fails, and that his/her name and telephone number
are displayed at the nearest point of public access.
- Ensure that scarers are properly maintained and checked regularly to detect
a malfunction that could cause complaints.
- Place scarers as far apart as possible to avoid a combined effect, taking
account of the lie of the land, atmospheric conditions and plant cover.
Use as many types of effective scarer as you can
- Position scarers so that they are pointing down- wind (where nuisance is
not a problem) - even a slight wind can affect the distance sound travels
- and take particular care with devices which swivel with the wind.
- Prolong the effectiveness of scarers by hiding them but not where there
could be a risk of fire or of surprising passers-by (especially horse riders).
- Do not position scarers near bridleways. If this is unavoidable, consider
erecting signs to warn horse-riders.
- Reinforce the effects of the scarer by shooting so that the noise is associated
with real danger.
- Try placing a scarer inside a brightly-coloured container and place several
similar, but empty containers in the field. Occasionally move the scarer from
one container to another.
The Firearms Act 1968 requires a firearms certificate to be obtained if bird
scaring cartridges are used. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 includes
powers to deal with nuisance from auditory bird scarers. These have been used
successfully to stop offending farmers using such scarers.
The Air Navigation Order 1980 requires the consent of the Civil
Aviation Authority to fly kites or balloons (visual scarers) above 60 metres
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects wild birds. General licences
are issued by the Department of the Environment, MAFF, and the Welsh Office
which allow authorised persons (including owners and occupiers of land and their
representatives) to take and kill certain species regarded as "pest birds".
Some other species can only be killed under a licence issued by MAFF or WOAD
(Welsh Office Agriculture Department). Scarers likely to injure wild birds are
Advice on bird scaring, effective use of scarers and other methods of preventing
bird damage can be obtained from ADAS Wildlife Consultants in the statutory
ESA and Environment Teams.
The NFU consulted the Central Science Laboratory, MAFF and the Department of
the Environment in the preparation of this Code.
Please note that the illustration of particular products does not denote
endorsement of those products by MAFF, DOE or NFU.
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