Frightening devices are pieces of equipment that attempt to get unwanted wildlife to leave an area through the use of fear. Fear invoking product can only be categorized as a frightening device if it causes fear by non-chemical means. For if chemical means are used, then the product would be a repellent and likely governed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
There are a myriad of products marketed as frightening devices available to consumers. The reason why there are so many is due to their perceived humanness. The device doesn’t “harm” the animals, it only scares them and sends them on their way to another place. Another reason consumers buy them is because they are relatively cheap and easy to use. Just install and the device does all the work. In contrast trapping, requires you to set the trap, bait it, and check it on a regular basis. Then if an animal is caught, you have to “do” something with it, such as kill it, release it, or more likely drive it down the road and dump it so the animal becomes someone else’s problem or dies in an unfamiliar environment.
Frightening devices do work, at least for the short term. This quick effectiveness helps continue the story that they work all the time. Unfortunately, as a general rule, frightening devices only work for a few weeks. After that time, animals quickly learn that the device does not pose a real threat. The ability of animals to become accustomed and ultimately ignore frightening devices is called habituation. Just like we can learn to ignore a persistent noise, animals too can learn that a frightening device is nothing to be frightened of.
How quickly animals learn to ignore a frightening device depends on several factors including, how desirable the site is, the personality of the animal/species, the novelty and/or severity of the frightening device, time of year etc. You may wonder what my opinion is of frightening devices. Well, I have a pretty negative view of them as a rule. Most fail to fulfil client expectations. The one’s that don’t often will irritate the client, neighbors, or are so time intensive or expensive that they are not feasible.
Understand that frightening devices are an important tool. But be aware of their limitations and don’t allow yourself to be oversold on their use.Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications along with several books (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. Copyright All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.