The Fence

In a flap over bird damage

Farmers are continually being impacted by elements that we can’t control, like the weather.

Whether it is being either a blessing or a curse, it is a reality that we are forced to come to terms with on a daily basis.

But, what really makes our members cranky is seeing their pastures or crops getting damaged or destroyed by wildlife, and then having little means of controlling them. The wildlife that really gets our feathers ruffled is birds.

Birds are naturally drawn to food supplies in agricultural areas, transmitting diseases and damaging crops. Fruits, vegetables and newly-seeded and emergent crops provide an all-you-can-eat feast for birds if unchecked.

TFGA recently undertook a survey of our members to assess how birds impact their production season. The survey returned some compelling results and demonstrated that nuisance birds cause a great deal of damage.

Key results included:

  • Almost half of respondents cited flocks of 500-1000, as an estimated number of pest birds on their property
  • Key pest bird species included cockatoos, crows, starlings and sparrows
  • Over 30 per cent cited damage costs varying between $5000-$10000
  • Damage included ruining seedlings, contributing to poor pasture germination, destroying fruit and even incidents of poppy capsule damage
  • A majority of respondents were using control methods to mitigate damage
  • The most common methods cited for reducing pest birds were shooting and gas guns to scare.

One of the big issues farmers have in controlling pest birds are the methods are currently limited, especially on broad acre properties.

As our survey highlighted the majority of farmers are using shooting as the optimum means to control, which is time consuming, expensive and ineffective to control in large numbers.

Unlike most other pest animals in Australia, there are fundamental deficiencies in our knowledge of pest bird species, their impacts, and the costs and efficacy of commonly used management practices.

Farmers also face high variability in, and uncertainty of, bird movement and damage. This makes the resolution of bird problems complex.

Without estimates of probable damage, it is difficult to estimate how much effort should be put into pest bird control.

Farmers are very aware that there are benefits that nature provides to agriculture.

Birds can provide many economic and environmental benefits including the control of insects, competition with, or predation of, pest birds and enhancement of environmental health and aesthetics.

Farmers are trying to find a happy medium so they can continue to have birds on their property; but flocks and flocks of birds damaging their crops is too much.

If agriculture is going to continue to be a key driver for the State pest bird control needs to be addressed.

Improved cooperation between, and an increased commitment by, State agencies, industry organisations and farmers is essential to address this issue.

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