U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Rhoades, C.A., P.J. Allen, and D.T. King. 2019. Using unmanned aerial vehicles for bird harassment on fish ponds. Proceedings of the Wildlife Damage Management Conference 18:13-23


The effects of aquaculture decline on piscivorous birds in the Mississippi Delta concern catfish farmers, with possible increases in fish loss and disease transmission. Piscivorous birds quickly habituate to most current methods of harassment (loud noises and visual disturbances) leading to increased depredation and disease. Our study was designed to test the efficacy of using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to effectively control piscivorous birds at fish farms. We hypothesized that a UAV would be more efficient at reducing the number of fish-eating birds on fish ponds than current forms of harassment. We conducted pre-treatment bird surveys, harassment observations, and post-treatment surveys at each experimental unit before and after each treatment on the same treatment days on 6 study sites in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The results of this study indicate that UAV harassment did not reduce piscivorous bird abundance more than human harassment in a 2-year field experiment.