Bird banger use in breach of by-laws

22:07, Mar 05 2014
Aaron Thompson
Aaron Thompson, FruitFed horticultural sales rep holds a bird of prey kite use to scare birds from the grapes.

Marlborough District Council is warning all vineyard owners not to shoot gas guns at night to scare off birds.

Seddon resident Eric Driver complained to the council that he was becoming increasingly frustrated as gas guns, also known as bird bangers, were being fired in the middle of the night in breach of council by-laws.

The guns are used to scare away starlings and other birds that feed on grapes.

A flock of hungry starlings

Council by-laws state gas guns are banned from being shot between the hours of 8pm and 7am (during daylight savings).

Mr Driver said vineyards owners in the Awatere Valley who didn't live on site had not changed the timing mechanism on their guns.

The guns were being fired every 20 minutes throughout the night, he said.


Netting keeps some of the birds at bay

"It is very frustrating," he said. "My partner is a light sleeper. When the guns go off she has great difficulty getting back to sleep again."

Mr Driver alerted the council's noise control department, but he said they couldn't do anything unless he pinpointed a specific address.

"This happens year in, year out. We don't know who the vineyard owners are. Trying to triangulate sound is very tough because the Awatere Valley echoes. Council create these by-laws but nobody actually enforces them.

Falcons are used to scare away the grape eating birds

"I want them banned. There are alternative methods such as netting, which good vineyard owners use. In Wairau a vineyard owner puts small meat bones on the top of yard posts to attract harriers who scare off starlings."

A Marlborough District Council spokeswoman said the council asked Wine Marlborough to distribute to their members the rules before bird scaring season each year.

The advice had been published in Wine Marlborough's February newsletter, she said.

"Where a gas gun is going off outside allowed hours and a property is identified by a complainant, the council writes to that property owner to advise them of the complaint and asks them to check their equipment." .


The Marlborough Express