A simple way of preventing Buzzards predation within the pheasant pen using a non lethal deterrent.

The detail below was obtained from the International Centre for Wildlife Damage Management supported by Cornell University in the United States.


Fig. 3. The electric pole shocker.
(1) uninsulated (exposed) 12-gauge (0.28-cm)
copper, ground, and hot wires (no connection
from ground to hot wire)
(2) insulated wire to ground
(3) insulated wire to fence charger
(4) 14- to 16-foot (4- to 5-m) post
(5) mounting screw
(6) 1-inch x 6-inch (2.5- x 15-cm) self-insulating
plastic pipe
(7) 3/4-inch (0.2-cm) sheet metal screws with
plastic expansion sleeve or tubing between
head of screw and plastic pipe

Throughout the last year we have seen Natural England issue licenses to gamekeepers allowing them to kill Buzzards to protect their pheasants within, or close to, release pens. Like many people we too have been justifiably concerned at this unacceptable development. How many more Buzzards, a protected specie, have to die in order that a gamebird classed as an alien species can survive for a few months before it is then shot for sport? Of more concern what is lying in wait around the corner many of us have already asked? Will Natural England begin to bow to ever increasing  pressure from the game shooting community by issuing additional licenses allowing gamekeepers to kill other species of protected raptors in the near future to protect their livestock?

In our view Natural England appear to have been far too hasty when they decided to issue licenses to legally kill Buzzards. Perhaps after all other viable forms of non lethal control could have been used but was not? Perhaps Natural England instead of researching non lethal control methods, decided instead to take the easy option by issuing licenses to kill Buzzards before other more appropriate forms of control was even attempted?


We have now undertaken our own research and have found a very effective device called a pole shocker. This simple non lethal device is being used in American by game farms and poultry farmers to prevent a variety of hawks, including Goshawk, Cooper’s hawk, Red-tailed hawk and Sharp-shinned hawk  from attacking and killing their livestock including pheasants.

Each unit consists of a ground wire running 1 inch (2.5cm) from a parallel to a wire that is connected to an electric fence charger. The electric shocking unit is installed on top of  14 to 16 foot (4 to 5m) poles and erect the poles around the threatened area at 50 to 100 foot (15 to 30m) intervals.

When a raptor lands on the pole, it immediately receives an electric shock and is repelled from the immediate area. Other perching sites in the area should be removed or made attractive. Energise the shocking unit only from dusk until dawn for owls, and during daylight hours for Buzzards and hawks.

The electric pole shocker keeps raptor from perching within a threatened area but does not exclude them from nesting in or using a nearby area. Most hawks and owls are highly territorial.A pair that is allowed to remain will aggressively defend the area and usually will exclude other hawks and owls. Thus, game managers and poultry farmers find it beneficial to coexist with a pair of hawks or owls that have learned to avoid an area protected by pole shockers.

It appears that a licence to use the above device to frighten away Buzzards from a pheasant rearing pen would be required from Natural England. We are confident that Natural England would be prepared to issue such a licence for the use of this device as a method of non lethal control, rather than issue a licence to kill a buzzard or buzzards.

5 comments to A simple way of preventing Buzzards predation within the pheasant pen using a non lethal deterrent.

  • Terry Pickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

    I am confident Natural England would be prepared to issue the required licence allowing game managers a more acceptable method of non lethal control of Buzzards instead of just killing them. Any enlightened person must agree that non lethal control of Buzzards is a better option than shooting Buzzards with a shot gun. If not then these individuals must accept many more Buzzards are for the licensed chopping block. I know which method I would prefer.

    At the moment as far as I am aware, there are no other non lethal proposals on the table, so unless something radical is attempted the licensed killing of Buzzards will continue. Where this device has been used in America it has proved extremely effective, so why not give it a try? It just may save the lives of a few Buzzards, and if it does then everyone’s a winner.

  • Stuart Wilshaw

    The use of this device in the UK would be an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act, section 5(1)(a): the use of “any electrical device for killing, stunning or frightening” would constitute an offence.

    Editor’s Comment. Stuart, no one has advocated using this device illegally. See Terry Pickford’s comment below. What would you prefer, the licensed killing of Buzzards to continue, or the licensed use of a non lethal method that scares away a Buzzard from the rearing pen allowing them to fly free? If anyone is in any doubt that Natural England would not issue the required licence, instead preferring to support the licensed killing option then think agains, how bad would Natural England look?

    Stuart, are aware gamekeepers use an electric wire which is placed above the ground running around the base of a pheasant pen to scare away foxes and other predators that eat pheasant poults, for example badgers. Do you know if the use of this electrical device is also illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act or not?

  • This simple non lethal device is being used in American by game farms and poultry farmers to prevent a variety of hawks, including Goshawk, Cooper’s hawk, Red-tailed hawk and Sharp-shinned hawk from attacking and killing their livestock including pheasants.

    So why not here?

    This would stop NE giving a license to kill!!

  • Trapit

    I have already replied to a post on Raptor Persecution UK, which criticised this article in, I thought quite unnecessary and derogatory terms.One could be forgiven for thinking there was a personal element lnvolved.
    This drew some quite ridiculous comments particularly from Anandprasad comparing this method of discouraging raptor predation at Pheasant release pens, with the wholly unacceptable methods employed on some Grouse moors to unsettle breeding raptors from settling upon the moor.

    As the editor of this post states, Raptor Politics is merely querying why Natural England do not look at a possible trial of this product before rushing headlong into issuing lethal control licences?

    As a keeper with over thirty years experience, I would have liked to have had the option of using these devices on a few occasions.I personally cannot see the difference in these poles, the electric fences already in use round Pheasant pens, electric livestock fencing or those that I believe are still in use around some zoo enclosures.

    Natural England set up a trial and give it a go.

  • falcoscot

    When you tackle issues like this the first thing you have to do is understand the legislation under which NE are issuing these licenses. The WCA is our national law which is supposed to implement EU Directives, by issuing a license to cull buzzard NE have to give details of this in an annual report to the EU Environment Commission detailing all the derogation they have issued under Article 9 of the EU Birds Directive and in order for them to issue such a derogation they have to look at all “satisfactory solutions”, this electric perch could be considered as one or as the pheasants are only considered “livestock” when they are within the release pen a fully enclosed pen could be considered another one so it could be argued there are “satisfactory solutions” available.

    It’s very unlikely NE will back down now they have issued permits as by doing that they’d have to admit to being incompetent so someone needs to fill a complaint with the EU Commission who will examine the issue and if they think NE haven’t acted legally will take them to the European Court of Justice, a complaint can be submitted by using this form :- http://ec.europa.eu/environment/legal/law/complaints.htm

    God help our native raptor population because those portraying themselves to be their protectors just stand by and do nothing !