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Finding an Environmentally-Friendly Predator Repellent

By Nite Guard LLC
Background

In 1967, Jim and Betty Meyer founded one of the largest game farm propagation facilities in the United States. Oakwood Game Farm, located in east-central Minnesota, has over 100 acres with 100-foot by 300-foot netted enclosures housing live birds. It is a complete facility with breeders, hatcheries and adult birds, predominantly Chinese Ring Neck pheasant and Chukar partridge.

Safeguarding the game birds is a never-ending battle as predator animals are attracted to these birds. Fox, weasel, raccoon, otter, mink, and coyote prowl the ground; and raptors, like hawks and owls, hunt from the air. Some of these predators are protected species, and cannot be harmed. With all of these considerations, Oakwood experimented over many years with various technologies and techniques to protect their game birds.

The farm is located in the country, but a growing population is moving into the area, rendering it less of a rural environment. Americans are interested in a self-sustaining lifestyle, growing their own organic vegetables and raising free-range livestock. This lifestyle requires protection from nocturnal wildlife, who destroy crops and livestock, and this protection is always sought for the lowest possible price and with the least inconvenience.  

Most people find controlling predator animals by trapping, shooting and killing repulsive and also time consuming, and so they seek out non-lethal methods.


Animal Behavior

Studies show wildlife have a “fight or flight” behavior triggered by various senses. The “fight or flight” instinct can be triggered by seeing another predator’s “eye spot,” a loud noise, a bright light, or a physical touch. Simulating multiple stimuli usually increases complexity and resultant cost to any design.

Some studies also show an animal aversion to undesirable smells. Deer, in particular, sense coyote and human scents, and tend to avoid areas where those scents are detected. Granules, powders, and sprays are used to apply these undesirable scents.


Product Characteristics

Based on previous experience and observation of the market, the following product characteristics are needed for protection of plants, poultry, and livestock from night predators:

1. Non-lethal
2. Effective
3. Easy to use
4. Low cost
5. Neighbor friendly
6. Self-powered
7. All season
8. Long life


Ideal Wildlife Predator Repellent

Oakwood Game Farm came to the conclusion that if one could combine all of these desirable traits, it would change the way gardeners, farmers, and ranchers deal with night predators.

Based on the specifications and studies by animal behaviorists, Oakwood Game Farm experimented with all types of products to deter nocturnal predators from their stocks of game birds.

1. Non-lethal: Trapping, shooting, and killing are expensive and time consuming. A periodic flashing light removes all that unpleasantness by merely repelling the night animals from the area.

2. Effective: Studies show that an animal interprets a flash of light as the “eye flash” of another animal who has discovered them, or is watching them, which causes the animal to leave the area. Oakwood chose a red LED for the flashing light because red has a longer wavelength that cuts through fog and other atmospheric debris. Nocturnal animals are largely color blind.

3. Easy to use: Easy to set up with no complicated programming or wiring, a true set it and forget it product. A small, lightweight package is easily mounted on any convenient branch, stake, or wall. A system should turn on and off automatically each night and morning.

4. Low cost: Oakwood chose cost effective, reliable components. Electric fencing is expensive, and needs maintenance. Guard dogs need daily care and maintenance also. Granules, powders, and sprays are also expensive.

5. Neighbor friendly: Audible alarms annoy neighbors. Oakwood chose a directed LED light that is energy efficient, and has a 120 degree arc to cover a large area but is not annoyingly brilliant.

6. Self-powered: Oakwood chose a solar powered system that recharges a lithium battery. This makes the product very portable and lightweight. It charges fully each day, even in cloudy or light shade areas.

7. All season: An outdoor product must be withstand rain, snow, and ice, as well as extreme temperatures.

8. Long life: The solar powered system is highly efficient and reliable, lasting 3 years or more.