Alternate and cost-effective methods to control flying feral vermin

A report has now been released by 2015 Nuffield Scholar and Northern Territory producer, Han Shiong Siah, following his research into methods to control flying feral vermin.

Han with Piper the dog at Cherry Capital Airport. Trained dogs are used to disperse birds at airports and are one of the most effective deterrents for controlling flying feral vermin. (Photo credit: Han Shiong Siah)

Han with Piper the dog at Cherry Capital Airport. Trained dogs are used to disperse birds at airports and are one of the most effective deterrents for controlling flying feral vermin. (Photo credit: Han Shiong Siah)

Supported by ANZ Bank and the Northern Territory Government, Han’s Nuffield Report seeks to identify alternative and cost-effective methods to control flying feral vermin, most notably Magpie Geese.

Han said the family’s orchard, particularly during mango harvest season, has continued to experience increased larger flock landings in recent years, but has also seen the Magpie Geese’s ability to evolve and adapt to environmental changes.

“Magpie Geese are a major problem in Australia’s north. In the mango industry, farmers have estimated damage of up to 20 per cent of their annual crops,” Han said.

“My Nuffield journey emerged from a need to find effective ways to manage Magpie Geese and other bird populations, and mitigate crop damage in our orchards, the farms of our neighbours and our peers in Northern Australia.

“It allowed me to see first-hand the novel, unusual and smarter methods to boost farm productivity and manage feral pests from other producers in Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand.”

The final report takes a close look at six categories of deterrent types including; light, drones, auditory methods, chemicals, natural predators and environmental modification.

“No single pest approach is fool proof—a multi-pronged approach is key,” Han said.

“In isolation, many of the strategies will only have a certain level of success before Magpie Geese eventually adapt and familiarise.

“Visual deterrents are one strategy to disperse pest birds, but laser technology to scare birds is highly effective in the right conditions, although more research is needed to optimise the strength of laser beams to suit the environment and wildlife in Northern Australia.

“There are also several sound deterrents available that play the calls of distressed birds, birds of prey or bird nuisances, with careful selection and correct speaker type having a role to play in their overall effectiveness.

“However, natural predators remain one of the safest and most effective deterrents, such as trained dogs to disperse birds at airports and the installation of falconry boxes on farms around the world.”

Han said newer technologies like the “Robird” drone or land-based drone “Goosinator” may be used as a quieter option for farms close to metropolitan areas, although further analysis and testing is needed in Australia.

“These types of drones, which are not currently available in Australia, would benefit from in-field trials to determine how suitable they would be against Magpie Geese.

“In addition, there is a number of technologies still at proof of concept stage, so working with developers on trials to evaluate their effectiveness in this part of the world would be highly beneficial,” he said.

For more information on this research please email han.siah@tropicalprimary.com.

Article originally appeared at: http://nuffield.com.au/scholar-profile-han-shiong-siah/.

The full report can be accessed here: nuffieldinternational.org/live/Report/AU/2015/han-shiong-siah.