Tuesday 13 March 2001
WE'RE NOT BIRD KILLERS, SAY WINE GROWERS
Author: By Environment Reporter CATHERINE HOCKLEY
Publication: ADV (p5, 13-03-2001)
ADELAIDE Hills vignerons deny they are to blame for mass shootings of
native birds The SA Wine and Brandy Industry Association, which
represents grape growers, agrees native bird culls happen in
horticultural industries, such as apple, pear and cherry growing in the
But it said "there was little evidence of it happening in the state's
wine grape vineyards".
Hills' vignerons have felt unfairly targeted by a threatened Internet
campaign to promote a boycott of their wines because of bird culling.
The threat came from international bird groups responding to National
Parks and Wildlife Service estimates 45,000 lorikeets and rosellas were
culled in the Adelaide Hills and Riverland in 1999-2000.
This had followed the State Government invoking an Act scrapping the
need for a native bird shooting permit.
The association's chief executive, Linda Bowes, said yesterday damage
to grape crops was caused by introduced bird species, such as starlings,
sparrows and blackbirds.
"Native species such as musk lorikeets and rainbow lorikeets . . . are
generally not major pests in our vineyards," she said. "Although the SA
Government has decided to drop the need for a permit to shoot certain
species of native birds, we don't believe there is a need for grape
growers to shoot them."
Apple and Pear Growers Association of SA general manager Trevor Ranford
said the vignerons' defence was "probably a fair comment".
"Certainly some native species, such as the lorikeets, have been a
bigger problem for apple and pear growers in the Hills," he said.
But Mr Ranford also disputed the cull figures saying they were gathered
from a survey of a little more than 200 growers and then "extrapolated".
"It's not truly representative," he said. "That's why we believe there
needs to be more research on bird numbers and what the problem is for
our industries. "
Ms Bowes said more of the Hills' grape growers were moving to
alternatives such as netting their vines to protect crops from birds.
Adelaide Hills' Nepenthe Wines has covered its most vulnerable vines
with the polyethylene netting for the past two seasons.
Viticulturist Murray Leake said yesterday netting was a long term
solution to controlling bird damage. "The pressure from birds has been
bad in the past couple of years, although this year it has improved," Mr
"You'd get to about two weeks before picking a crop and the vines would
be stripped by birds - mostly starlings and crows.
"Now we're netting varieties about five to six weeks before picking and
it's very effective. "
SA netting importer Peter Treloar, of Crop Safe, said an increasing
number of Hills vignerons were moving to netting, at a cost of about
$3700 a hectare, for premium crops.
"Vignerons are saying no nets, no crop," he said.
Ms Bowes said that for other vineyards, the combination of gas guns,
kites and some shooting was necessary.
"Viticulturists very rarely use shooting as a component of their bird
management program and then only in conjunction with bird scaring
devices such as gas guns," she said.
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