|We are not bird killers, say wine growers
By Environment Reporter
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 Hills.
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
WRAPS: Murray Leake of Nepenthe Wines,
left, and net importer Peter Treloar examine protected vines near
Charleston in the Adelaide Hills yesterday. Above left, a rainbow
lorikeet. Picture: BRETT HARTWIG
from birds has been bad in the past couple of years,
although this year it has improved," Mr Leake said.
"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.