Human Hazing

In some instances, particularly for large ponds, companies have formed teams of people who are responsible for keeping birds from landing (or try to get them to leave the surface of the pond after they have landed). These hazers use a variety of techniques, including just about any diversionary tactic imaginable from Radio Controlled Model boats and planes to cracker shells launched from a shotgun.

Effectiveness:

During the day, with good visibility and weather these human hazers; are effective. However at night, and during times of foul weather, the human hazers lack effectiveness. Unfortunately as previously discussed, it is during nighttime and foul weather that most avian landings occur. The size of the pond, as well as the number of hazers working the pond and the equipment available to them are all important factors in establishing the effectiveness of this approach.

Costs:

Costs associated with human hazing programs vary significantly. Typically the more hazers and equipment the more effective this approach is to limiting bird mortality. The cost of hiring and maintaining a staff capable of defending a large pond is not cheap, and will remain high throughout all the years that the human hazing scheme is used. An additional consideration is the health risk to the hazers. Offgassing from the pond requires that hazers use respirators any time they are near the pond. They may also be at risk of falling into the water. We have no idea of the long term effects which could be associated with this exposure.

A High Tech Modification:

In an effort to deal with some of the shortcomings of human hazing, at least one company has incorporated the use of a marine radar into their system. The operator watches the radar screen, recognizes bird signatures and directs hazers to the area where birds were indicated. The large size of the pond dictates that the hazers use a boat to get to the spot that the birds are detected, and exposure to spray from the pond is a significant risk, and forces the boat to be operated at low speeds. Another problem with this and other hazing systems is the biology of grebes and diving ducks. Once one of these ducks has landed any attempt to move them off the pond results in the ducks diving. In essence the act of diving assures their death in heavily contaminated ponds.