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Creative scarecrow in southern Taiwan frightens more people than birds

Taiwanese farmers devise new tactic in age-old battle of wits

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Uniquely styled scarecrow in Chiayi County has reportedly scared more people than birds. (Chen Chien-hua photo)

Uniquely styled scarecrow in Chiayi County has reportedly scared more people than birds. (Chen Chien-hua photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A scarecrow featuring a mannequin head with permed and dyed hair that has been scaring residents of Chiayi County lately is actually a new tactic employed by farmers to keep birds at bay.

While the modern-looking scarecrow does not seem to be very effective, Chiayi County Wild Birds Association Chair Chen Chien-hua (陳建樺) has applauded the method, as it poses no harm to fowl.

As the harvest season approaches, so too has the war between farmers and birds in Chiayi County. Farmers have tried all kinds of bird-prevention strategies, from installing scarecrows and hanging reflective CDs and flags to even using poison or hanging up dead birds, according to UDN.

These methods, however, usually have limited effects, the paper reported.

Though farmers have also tried setting up nets, trapped birds tend to strangle themselves as they struggle. Farmers also risk angering conservationists when protected species get caught or die in nets.

The goal is to prevent birds from eating their crops, not to kill them, a local farmer told UDN.

Chen said that farmers usually use bird-capturing nets rather than harmless bird-prevention nets. As a result, protected species like the greater painted-snipe and brown shrike often fall into the traps.

Since the farmers’ intentions are not to hunt wildlife, government authorities do not have legal grounds to penalize them for the animals’ deaths. They can only keep discouraging farmers from setting up nets to prevent such incidents, UDN said.