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Regulations in 2002
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On February 09, 2002 at the Pacific Agriculture Show, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture staff presented revised guidelines to the Farm Practices Act, as pertains to the use of audible bird scare devices.

The Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. John Van Dongen opened the presentation and discussed how changes are becoming necessary in the blueberry industry. There has been a large increase in acreage producing blueberries, and urban development is continuing to expand into what was once farm land. The number of complaints about propane cannons increased significantly in 2001, prompting the need for farm practices revisions.

The tone of the Minister's statements made our group feel that something at last was going to be done about the noise pollution issue.

The Minister then introduced Bert Van Dalfsen, a ministry staff member, who provided the details of the proposed changes, and the wind was quickly let out of our group's sails. The changes proposed proved to be rather insignificant.

The following are the recommendations presented by the Ministry of Agriculture staff. These guidelines are to be incorporated into the current Farm Practices Act and become effective in the 2002 growing season.

The Ministry also made a number of recommendations which require local government involvement, and these are summarized below.

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Audible Bird Scare Devices

Audible bird scare devices can be annoying to nearby residents. The Farm Practices Board (May 1999) and the Ministry (February 2002) have reviewed this issue. As a result of these reviews, the Ministry has revised the guidelines for the use of audible bird scare devices. Audible bird scare devices are divided into two main categories.

Category 'A' bird scare devices create an impulse sound. Impulse sound is from impacts or explosions. Propane fueled exploders or cannons are an example of Category 'A' devices. Firearms and shell launchers such as orchard pistols are not included.

Category 'B' bird scare devices are any other stationary device, not in Category 'A', which generate sounds to scare or disturb birds. Examples are devices that broadcast bird calls or other sounds through loudspeakers. Firearms and shell launchers such as orchard pistols are not included.

Guidelines applying to both Category A and B devices are as follows:

Farmers:
  • should operate devices only between 6:00 a.m. (6:30 a.m. in South Coastal Region) and 8:00 p.m. local time or dawn to dusk, whichever is of lesser duration;
  • should operate no more than one device per two hectares of crop land at any one time;
  • should try to alternate or relocate devices being used on a farm operation at least every 4 days;
  • should maintain devices, including timing mechanisms, to ensure they operate properly and not outside the recommended hours of operation;
  • should use devices only as part of a wildlife predation management plan;
  • should legibly mark devices with the operator's name and 24-hour phone number;
  • should establish a local contact person for each farm where the owner/operator does not live within a reasonable distance of the farm where devices are used; and
  • may use devices for the protection of crops.

Guidelines applying only to Category A devices are as follows:

Farmers:
  • should operate devices with a firing frequency of no more than one firing per 5 minutes for single shot devices and no more than 11 activations or maximum of 33 shots in any hour for a multiple-shot device. Multiple shots from a device are considered as one activation if they occur in less than a 30-second period;
  • should maintain a 150 meter separation distance between a device and a neighbouring residence. Where written permission from the owner of a neighbouring residence is obtained, the separation distance can be waived; and
  • should maintain a 300 meter separation distance between a device and an urban-residential/ALR edge.
Guidelines applying only to Category B devices are as follows:

Farmers:
  • should maintain a 100 meter separation distance between a device and a neighbouring residence. Where written permission from the owner of a neighbouring residence is obtained, the separation distance can be waived; and
  • should maintain a 200 meter separation distance between a device and an urban-residential/ALR edge.
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The following are a list of other recommendations within the Ministry of Agriculture's report:

1. Develop Provincial Standards for Farm Bylaws
  • It is recommended that the new Guidelines (Wildlife Damage Control) be adopted as standards for farm bylaws.
  • It is recommended that separation distances be used to regulate noise from audible bird scare devices rather than sound level limits.

2. Local government land use planning
  • It is recommended that the ministry encourage local governments to use development permit areas and other means to establish buffers on the urban side of the ALR edge. Guidelines for landscaped and siting buffers should be developed by the ministry to aid local governments in implementing these buffers.

3. Local government audible bird scare device committees
  • It is recommended that the ministry, local governments and industry form committees for the purpose of improving communication and the farmers' compliance with the Wildlife Damage Control Guidelines.
4. Netting fund
  • It is recommended that one-time funding options be available to farmers for netting crop land for protection from bird predation. Funds may be prioritized to go to existing farms within 300 m of an urban-residential/ALR edge.

Let’s make propane cannons a blast from the past!
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