Alternatives and Solutions
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There are numerous quiet alternatives that berry farmers can use instead of propane cannons. These alternatives are listed in an ever growing list below.

The Ban the Cannons group has presented these ideas as well as a number of solutions and recommendations to the Ministry of Agriculture, the BC Blueberry Council, the Farm Industry Review Board, and local MLA's many times in the past. But nothing changes, and the number of propane cannons in operation in the Fraser Valley continues to grow. Reasonable and viable alternatives continue to be ignored.

Please click on the following link to read our Solutions & Recommendations.

Alternatives to Propane Cannons

  • Nets Nets, our number one recommendation for bird control. Nets that totally enclose a blueberry crop are environmentally friendly, and virtually 100% effective in protecting a crop from birds. See the picture to the right.

  • Side Netting, a variation of total canopy netting described above. This approach has been used by grape growers with great success and is described in more detail on our side netting page.

  • Automated Netting Systems, are now available that greatly reduce the number of man hours required to cover crops with nets, making netting a much more viable option for berry and grape farmers. For more information, see our automated netting page.

  • Natural Predators, hawks and falcons are natural predators of starlings, and these birds should be encouraged by blueberry growers to nest in their vicinity of the berry fields. Trinity University researchers have proven the effectiveness of raptors and are encouraging growers to set up raptor nest boxes, but the industry has done little to encourage and expand this program.
    For more info. please visit our natural predators web page.

  • A Starling

    Starling Traps, to capture the little villains. A lot of web sites explain the details about making starling traps. Blueberry Growers could easily build their own starling traps in the off season. See our trapping page for more info.

  • Professional Trapping, Okanagan Fruit Grower Assoc's. and Washington State berry growers use the services of professional trappers. Fraser Valley blueberry growers should do the same. Doesn't eliminating the problem make the most sense? Please visit our Pro-Trapping web page.

  • Lasers, a Cloverdale berry farmer has invented a laser unit that is effective in scaring birds from his fields. Lasers are totally silent and work better than cannons according to the inventor. The details can be found on our laser page.

  • Repellents, biodegradeable and non-poisonous, such as Bird Shield or Rejex-It. These products are FDA approved in the USA, and Rejex-it has been approved in Canada.

  • Jackite
  • The Eagle also known as a Jackite (right), is a model of a bird, or eagle, that soars on a tethered line and patrols fields up to 2.5 acres. Click on the following to view a U-Tube video of a Jackite protecting a blueberry field, and see how realistic the jackite is at simulating a real hawk or falcon: Jackite on U-Tube
    or, for more details, please visit our Jackite web page.

  • Streamers, and reflective tapes, quiet and environmentally friendly. Used by many blueberry growers.

  • Companion Planting, some growers plant companion or sacrificial crops borderiing their blueberry fields. They scare the birds from their blueberry fields but let them remain and dine on the sacrificial plantings.

  • Intervention in the Fields, is it old fashioned to think that farmers should spend some time in their fields during the harvest period when their crop is ripe and vulnerable to birds? Human intervention in the fields is one of the best bird scare methods.

  • Helikyte
  • Overhead Devices, there are a wide variety of overhead devices that can be used, such as scare eye balloons, helikytes (right), soaring devices, etc.

  • Scare Windmills, reflective windmills, powered by the wind. The reflective blade surfaces flash UV light that scares birds, silently.

  • Canine Patrols used successfully by golf courses to discourage birds and waterfowl. Also used at airports to deter birds for safety reasons.

  • Metal and mirrored flashers, such as hanging pie plates, mirrors, etc.

  • Mylar vibrating line, a thin line that flashes and also vibrates and hums to scare birds.

  • High frequency noise devices, products that put out a high frequency noise that humans can't hear, but birds can and are frightened by.

  • Inflatables, recently a UK group sent us an e-mail describing their new bird scare device designed initially for airports, by people in the aviation industry. The device can also be used in other applications, including agriculture, and is currently in the testing phase. For more details, please see our Inflatables page.

  • The Owl, a life-like owl model that can be positioned on a pole or along fencing to deter birds. For more information, see our owl page.

  • Scarecrows
  • ScareCrows, which have been used by farmers for hundreds of years.

  • High-tech Scarecrows, A Canadian company has created 'scarebots' to ward off hungry birds. For more information, see our high-tech scarecrow page.

Solutions & Recommendations

The Blueberry Industry in British Columbia would like everyone to believe that there are no viable alternatives to noise polluting bird scare devices, and they just can't give up their propane cannons. But, as you can see above, there is a long list of viable alternatives.

Ban the Cannons has a number of ideas and recommendations that should be acted upon by the industry and governments, and they are highlighted below.

  • First, test farms should be established to test all available silent bird deterents and experiment with new technologies. The objective would be to determine the best quiet techniques for deterring birds. Test farms could use an integrated approach to detering birds and test a number of the silent ideas simultaneously.

  • Second, the industry should start trapping starlings in the Fraser Valley, as is done in the Okanagan and in Washington State.

  • Third, cannons should not be allowed on small acreages with less than five acres of crops. These acreages tend to have many more neighbours with more people affected by the noise. Smaller acreage can also more easily be netted.

  • Fourth, the distance guiuideline should be extended to 500 meters. The noise impact at 200 meters to a resident' home is too severe.

  • Fifth, a propane cannon phase out should be started. Initially, no new cannons should be allowed in the Fraser Valley. Then each year the size of a property that can support one cannon should be increased gradually , say from 5 acres, to 10 acres, to 15, etc. until; cannons are phased out entirely. Implementing a gradual phase out would force the industry to investigate and begin to use alternatives.

  • Sixth, neighbours rights should be put ahead of the rights of the noise polluters. The Blueberry Industry in British Columbia has proven time and again that it doesn't give a darn about it's neighbours, whether they live at the ALR edge, or more rural areas. Cannons even affect more traditional farmers. In areas where many neighbours are affected, or other farm operations are nearby, municipal noise bylaws should supercede Right to Farm Laws where propane cannon noise is concerned.

    Propane cannons should not be prtotected by Right to Farm legislation. Protecting propane cannons under "right to farm laws" makes a mockery of the agriculture industry and the image of the farming community.

The bottom line here is that there are many alternatives to propane cannons. There are also many things that the blueberry industry and Ministry of Agriculture officials could do to help solve the problem, and ultimately eliminate this noise abuse. But all the industry is doing at present is fighting to maintain the status quo.