Between January and April 2020, local residents were often reporting noise from scare guns in orchards. Farmers use scare guns to deter birds and scare them away from crops and fruit trees, especially when fruit is ripe and ready to pick.

The OPLE said scare guns produce an explosive sound through the ignition of a gas charge. Some scare guns rotate and fire in different directions after each shot.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) requires An Authority to Control Wildlife to operate a scare gun. EPA’s Noise Control Guidelines (publication 1254) provide guidance on how to use them while minimising impact on residents.

The OPLE worked with the local council to provide advice and to reinforce the guidelines to 28 orchardists from January 2020 to April 2020.

The OPLE said looking at an aerial view of a property helped determine whether orchardists were meeting the minimum distance guidelines. The guideline says there must be at least 300 metres between the scare gun and residential properties.

Other guidelines include:

  • a maximum number of 70 blasts per day
  • a break between blasts of no less than six minutes
  • a total operation time of no more than 12 hours per day
  • blast operating time between 7.00 am and sunset.

The OPLE also provided advice to orchardists about the use of hay bales, buildings and natural features to act as shielding from the noise of the scare gun. The OPLE also recommended blasts be concentrated to times of the day when birds are feeding and more active.

The OPLE also educated residents about what the EPA guidelines consider reasonable in the use of scare guns.

This was a successful education and compliance assessment program – understanding the rights of the residents regarding noise while making sure orchardists comply with requirements.

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Reviewed 17 April 2024