Featured is important guidance on the safe use of laser technology as part of a bird control strategy, as well as advice direct from Bird Control Group. Bird Control Group uses laser beam technology, in particular the Agrilaser®, to repel birds in a number of scenarios, including on and around airports.

Lasers as bird deterrents

There have been many tactics used to frighten birds away, using all manner of devices, from banging dustbin lids together to use of pyrotechnics. Now the latest technology is a range of handheld laser systems which have raised interest as they can be used quietly, with minimal disturbance and attraction; provided they are handled in a professional manner.

Laser systems, if used correctly, have been shown to change behaviour in some bird species when a constant programme of use is operated. A fixed system has shown to be useful in dispersing birds from flat roof areas by projecting horizontal beams of light across large areas. Smaller handheld systems, that look similar to a torch, have also proven useful for pest controllers dispersing pigeons from the inside of warehouses or to lift off gulls/corvids from landfill sites. Some models of lasers can reach distances of between 1,000m and 2,500m and this is appealing to both the pest controller and their clients.

Whilst these tools can aid your work and provide another tool in the box, should they get into the wrong hands they could be used illegally, causing possible eye damage and injury as shown recently by press reports in the laser technology in the UK.

‘Laser strikes’

A man in Hull was recently convicted of misuse by directing a green laser beam at a police helicopter pilot. He received a 20 week custodial sentence. At Heathrow Airport a Virgin Atlantic jet pilot reported being “shot in the eye” en route to New York. The jet was turned around west of Ireland after the pilot felt unwell due to the laser exposure, thus delaying the 252 passengers on board, who were then put up in a hotel for the night. It would appear that these are not rare instances; throughout the UK most airports have reported similar instances to the Civil Aviation Authority, with such reports numbering around 500 in 2015. Steinar Henskes, Director of Bird Control Group said, “The negative publicity of the laser incidents can raise questions concerning the use of bird control lasers. The products that Bird Control Group sell we believe to be extremely safe when used according to directions and best practice. From the negative incidents that we know of, none of the reported ‘laser strikes’ were caused by Bird Control Group products.”

Lasers, the law and best practice

Since 2010 a new law has been introduced against misuse of lasers. However, incidents like this will not help the pest control industry. Whilst you value these tools as an aid to your business, calls for a ban on such equipment were quick to follow, led by the police and other safety experts. In New South Wales, Australia, the state banned their use, classifying them as dangerous weapons.

Perhaps, as an industry, we should consider self-regulation and adopt safety rules and best practice guidance that would satisfy any concerns regarding the use of lasers for pest control purposes.

Bird Control Group Advice on Laser Standards and Safety

The highest safety standards for use of bird control laser products are achieved by the following:

Education and training

Safe use of laser products is an essential message and prerequisite when undertaking bird control. Make sure you are trained appropriately. Bird Control Group trains users to ensure the safe application of lasers. Moreover, they are involved in the development of regulations for safe use of lasers on and around airports. For example, they have contributed to the CAP772 standard of the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Safety features

Bird Control Group continuously strives to make their laser solutions safer. One of their features is the patented Horizon Safety System. This system detects when the laser beam is used in an uncontrolled or dangerous manner and deactivates the laser beam as a safeguard. The possibility of endangering pilots and air traffic controllers is thereby eliminated. Another important safety feature is that the products are equipped with a key lock system, to prevent unauthorized use of the equipment.

Highly accurate positioning

By means of a very precise motor control the automatic models and red dot sights on the handheld lasers enable users to carefully aim the laser beam before activation. In this way, projection of the laser beam in an unsafe area is prevented.

A few pointers (nice pun!) when using lasers:

  1. NEVER point at or near an aircraft, vehicle, or a person’s head.
  2. When using a laser to disburse birds, use a zig-zag movement along the ground or along a ledge towards the birds.
  3. If given an option, use a wide beam rather than a pinhead version.
  4. Use the laser in short bursts rather than a continuous stream.
  5. When using a laser to move birds off a landfill site, check that other objects are not in the line of site of a laser.
  6. Continually monitor for aircraft in the vicinity.

Remember, misuse of lasers may result in you being arrested, fined or facing a custodial sentence.

Source: Pest Control News issue 107