Bad apples: Cockatoos leave $4000 damage bill

Source: Border Mail

Orchardist Peter Chambeyron has watched cockatoos strip his trees of apples valued at $4000 this week.

Mr Chambeyron, from the small Victorian town of Stanley, said the apples might have been saved if he had been able to use a gas scare gun from dawn to dusk.

But he said that was not an option because it would have given neighbours grounds to complain.

Mr Chambeyron said Indigo Council bylaws allowed the use of gas guns from 7am until dusk, but the Environment Protection Agency enforced more restrictive 7am to 7pm use of the guns.

But the cockatoos were doing much of their damage in the hour or so before and after those curfew times.

“The devastation they have caused is massive,” a dispirited Mr Chambeyron said yesterday.

“We’ll lose the entire crop.”

He has lost a mix of varieties, and fears for trees of pink ladies still to ripen.

Mr Chambeyron, who saved his cherry crop from the cockatoos’ by netting it, said the ground under his apple trees was “a sea of green” where the cockatoos had split the apples to get to the seeds, then discarded the fruit.

He said he simply did not know what to do.

“The farmers have no protection now if anyone moves into an area and makes a complaint,” he said.

Mr Chambeyron said he was allowed to use his gas gun 80 times a day. Outside the 12-hour window, he had been shooting the cockatoos that began their raid on Saturday morning.

“White cockatoos are the only native birds we can shoot because they’re not protected,” he said.

“I don’t like doing it because of their role in the environment.”

Mr Chambeyron said any efforts, aside from using the gas gun all day, were not enough.

His electronic bird scarer was not effective without the gun because the limit of 45 decibels was below the normal speaking voice of 50-70 decibels.

“We can’t extend our hours of using the gun,” Mr Chambeyron said.

“We should have the right to farm and anyone who moves into the area should accept it’s for farming.

“Gas guns are the main issue at the moment.”

Mr Chembeyron has about 3000 fruit trees on his property.

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