By Dave Parish, GWCT Head of Scottish Lowland Research
The LIFE+ Laser Fence project aims to investigate whether low-powered bird-scaring lasers might be effective at excluding various mammalian pests from designated areas. The lasers work by shining a bright green spot on the ground – often at some distance from the source – and the movement of the spot is what is thought to scare birds away so effectively.
The hope is that if this method also works on mammals, it will eventually reduce the reliance on lethal methods of control, such as the use of rodenticides for example. This is a major project lead by Liverpool John Moores University with partners in England, Spain and The Netherlands, all of whom will be running trials of various kinds.
Dr Dave Parish describing the project to Scottish Game Fair goers
In Scotland, we will be running trials at GWSDF Auchnerran, where we will focus on rabbits (a major pest on the farm with many thousands of individuals present), deer and some of the potential predators of our significant wader populations, including rats. The first of these trials, on rabbits, has just begun with a period of careful monitoring before we introduce the lasers, and the full experiment will last about a month. This uses an automatic laser that is programmed to follow a carefully set pattern of movements over the ground.
Last week we had the opportunity to introduce the Laser Fence project at the Scottish Game Fair. This is an annual event over three days, attended by a total of around 30,000 people from a variety of backgrounds. Our Laser Fence presentation was very well received and drew some interesting questions and comments from the audience, many of whom wondered about other potential uses of the technology.
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