Protected birds drive grower nuts

A Gingin orchardist is being driven nuts by flocks of protected Carnaby's black cockatoos that are taking a devastating toll on his macadamia and pecan trees - but he does not blame the birds.

Amos Machlin blames land clearing for the problem that cost him the entire crop from his 400 macadamia trees last year and a third of the crop from his 900 pecan trees.

The 86-year-old has invested in everything from high-pitched sonar to radar, gas cannons and sound recordings of birds in distress to protect his trees, which are too tall for netting, but nothing has worked.

He has resorted to employing someone to patrol his farm with a shotgun to fire non-lethal pyrotechnic- charged cartridges into the air to scare off the cockatoos.

"I'm convinced that sooner or later I'll have to walk away from the nuts and just leave them for the birds," he said.

Mr Machlin said requests to the Department of Environment and Conservation for compensation or financial aid were rejected, though the DEC did support the trial of a radar detection system.

The former City of Perth chief engineer said the birds were not a problem when he planted the trees in 1978 and began feeding on the nuts only after land clearing cut their natural habitat.

"The attitude the department takes is I should have known the birds would be a problem, but the problem came after me as their natural habitat disappeared," he said.

Mr Machlin blasted a State Government policy that lets property developers offset land clearing by buying parcels of bush.

"It is nonsense because the offsets are already bush. They are not replacing the loss of habitat caused by the developer," he said.

The West Australian

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