Good Management Practices - Interim Guidelines for the Use of Propane Air Cannons
and Other Bird Scare Auditory Devices
Dated June 1, 2008, Whatcom County, WA
The following Interim Guidelines, effective June 1, 2008 through December, 31, 2009, currently define "Good Management Practices" protected under the Whatcom County Right to Farm Ordinance (Chapter 14.02 WCC). These "Guidelines" are an effort to establish an acceptable program between all parties affected by current agricultural operations with regard to the use of propane air cannons and other loud auditory bird scare devices further referred to as LAD's. These guidelines apply when there are residences or businesses within a quarter mile of the crop field.
The purpose of these guidelines is to help small fruit growers deploy effective crop protection tactics and equipment by reducing bird predation while providing neighboring homes and businesses with reasonable levels of peace and quiet.
It is recommended that on a regular basis, growers, nearby residents, or businesses, establish lines of communication and continue to correspond with each other in an attempt to remain aware of the grower's plans to implement crop protection strategies.
- No-noise or low-noise bird deterrents are preferred and thus recommended "first resort" practices. These include devices such as JacKites, Helikites, falconry services, trapping, kestrel boxes, netting, and other visual and sensory deterrents.
- LAD's should not be used when birds are not present and threatening predation of fruit. Careful consideration of controlling pests without becoming one should be taken into account with the use of any type of auditory control measures.
- Birds quickly become habituated to LADs when they are used incorrectly. To be most effective, LADs should be used in conjunction with a wide range of scaring tactics and regularly altered by:
- Changing positioning or direction of LAD
- Altering times, pitch, or magnitude of sound
- Regular monitoring of bird activity to ensure effectiveness of LADs
- Including some threat of physical harm to birds to accompany LAD
- LAD's are to be used only during daylight hours corresponding with avian feed cycles.
- LAD's are to be used on the lowest practical decibel setting.
- When possible, LADs should be positioned with the cannon barrel, or speaker box pointed away from residences or businesses.
- When possible, use of hay bales or other sound buffering devices are recommended in order to mitigate noise impacts to residences or businesses.
- If intervals between firing are too short, birds will quickly become used to the scarer. LADs should be fired a minimum number of times per hour (suggested no more than a maximum of once every 15 minutes if a single blast cannon; once every 20 minutes if the source is a multi-blast cannon).
More information on bird deterrent tactics can be found in the WSU/Whatcom County Extension Integrated Pest Management for Blueberries Manual. The WSU Extension Office can be reached at 676-6736. A copy of the guidelines is available at:
To make a report about non-adherence to these guidelines please call the Whatcom County Sheriff at 360-676-6650. These reports will be used to help identify problems and reviewed to help find better solutions for our farmers and our community.