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Laser beams may banish bats


A New Zealand farmer says laser beams are the best solution for dispersing flying foxes on the Sunshine Coast.

6 July, 2014

The high-tech suggestion comes as the Sunshine Coast Council begins a second round of non-lethal dispersal action at the Cassia Wildlife Corridor near Coolum.

About 40 per cent of the 2,500 flying foxes have returned to their roost since the council's first attempt in May.

Cherry farmer Michael Bonnie says he uses specially designed lasers to repel birds from his orchard and believes the beams could help the Sunshine Coast Council rid urban areas of flying foxes.

"You could set up an automated system that works 24 hours-a-day," he said.

Mr Bonnie says the laser should work well on the nocturnal bats as it is more effective in darkness.
"The patent holder believes they'll keep birds away during the day, but they only work well in low light," he said.

Tested on different animals

Steinar Henskes is the CEO of the company that developed the laser system and says it has been effective on bats during testing.

"We did some research about the reactions of certain animals, birds, cats, dogs, bats, and we just filled in a table in terms of effectiveness," he said.

"We saw some reaction of some bats, and some from cats and dogs, but birds were repelled the best."

Mr Henskes says their beams have a maximum range of 2,000 metres and shock animals in a similar way to car headlights.

"The animals perceive the laser beam as a physical danger," he said.

"We humans know it's light but the animals perceive it like a physical stick."

Users must follow safety intruction

Mr Henskes says even though the laser can be dangerous, theirs are especially tuned to be used safely.

"It's like the light for giving power point presentations," he said.

Mr Henskes says the product has instructions that outline how to use it responsibly.

"It's just like a knife, you can cut your tomatoes with it, or you can cut other people with it, therefore you should use it on a responsible basis," he said.

"We do have a customer in Sweden who uses it on moose."

Council open to idea

Councillor Jason O'Pray says he is open to using laser to disperse flying foxes if it is safe.

"I'm a big fan of opening up to technology but it would have to be across the table with dispersal experts.

"If it works for birds then I can't see it won't work for flying foxes, but there's no guarantee that they won't return."

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