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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 10:02 GMT
Fake snakes to scare Aussie birds
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

A starling (file image)
Residents are anxious to get rid of the unwanted visitors
Plastic snakes are being deployed in an effort to scare away tens of thousands of starlings that have invaded a small city in Australia.

Authorities in Tamworth have used water cannon and large nets in unsuccessful attempts to get rid of the hordes.

Tamworth is the home of Australia's most famous country music festival as well as many unwanted small birds.

Officials there are hoping that brightly coloured plastic snakes could bring an end to months of misery.

Thousands of starlings have descended on the city and have been drawn like magnets to trees that line one of the main streets.

The local mayor has insisted that pungent droppings have become a major problem.

Leave your car under one of the trees for an hour to go shopping, he said, and you probably will not recognise it when you get back.

'Getting desperate'

Tamworth council has been trying for months to eradicate this resilient pest. The starlings though are unmoved.

The latest weapons in the fight between man and bird are pink, orange, green and black plastic snakes, which are being tied to branches.

Officials believe there is a good chance the starlings will be scared away.

There does not appear to be strong scientific evidence to back this up but clearly Tamworth is getting desperate.

The city, which lies 420km (260 miles) north of Sydney, has used high-powered water cannon to try to get the birds to move on.

That did not work - neither did flashing lights or sounds pumped out of loud-speakers.

If the fake snakes do not do the job, there are suggestions that Tamworth's feathered foe could be deterred by covering trees with cotton webbing or using artificial fog to disorientate them.

There are no plans at this stage to bring in sharp-shooters.

The snakes that scare off the birds

Country profile: Australia
17 Oct 07 |  Country profiles

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