Pest management professionals who service commercial facilities are well aware of the dangers that insect and rodent pests can pose for food-processing facilities. But how often do you think about birds as a pest? Birds can harbor dozens of bacteria, disease-causing germs and parasites — dangers that quickly can spread to humans via droppings, feathers or handling birds themselves.
As a pest management provider, you can make sure your clients are protected from potential bird risks. Where do you begin? Utilize what I like to call the “4Es” to move through developing a plan to protect your clients from bird contamination: exterior, entry, evacuate and educate.
Keeping birds out of any facility begins on the exterior. In fact, most of your bird protection work should be focused on working with the client on the exterior to make the area less attractive to birds.
- Keep trees well pruned, with an open form canopy.
- Prune trees and shrubbery to eliminate understory.
- Landscaping should be at least 1.5 feet (.5 meters) away from the building.
Employees often prop exterior doors open to save time and energy. But of course open doors often allow birds (and other pests!) access to the building as well.
- Keep doors, including those at loading docks, closed whenever possible.
- For doors that must remain open, use heavy-gauge plastic strip curtains to form a barrier. To be effective, curtains must touch the ground and strips must overlap.
No matter how effective a bird management program, birds may sometimes gain access to a building. It is important to remove any birds that get in as soon as possible to prevent contamination. In some facilities, intrusion by a bird could call for production shut down.
Employees are your first line of defense at such facilities. They also have insights into where pests are seen or may be entering. Be sure to interview them too as applicable — in addition to educating them.
As always, remember that bird management has different public relations concerns than typical pest management.
Birds often are not regarded as pests and are deemed “friendly” creatures by the public at large — therefore, any control methods could be misconstrued as harming or hurting these animals.
One “E word” that doesn’t apply to bird management: easy. Like pest management, bird management is a skill that requires training and expertise. However, if you build a well-thought-out plan centered around the 4 Es and develop a strong collaborative relationship, you’ll be well on your way to protecting your processing clients from the dangers of contamination by birds.