Richard Fidler’s voice used in pest management trial 

A new form of pest control has been trialled in Tasmania, and while it may be desirable for some humans, it seems to strike fear into the hearts of wild deer. 

University of Tasmania honours student Lucy Turnbull has been using the voice of ABC Conversations Richard Fidler, in an attempt to repel the increasing deer population in rural Tasmania. 

Trialling the new method on a sheep farm, Lucy set up a series of motion-activated recordings to test whether the human voice is a practical method of deer management. 

Passing deer were alerted to the sound of Fidler’s voice as recordings played audio grabs of things from past shows like, ‘In Melbourne, up to his elbows in buttery, slippery, oozing paint …’ and ‘I imagine Whitlam’s true believers in those days scratching their heads.’

Interestingly, Turnbull showed that test areas using human voice recordings reduced deer presence by 50%, while motion sensors using animal sound recordings did not scare any deer away. 

“They were much more scared of humans,” said Turnbull.

The sound of voices like Fidler’s startled the deer instantly, causing disruptions resulting in scurrying or alert concern. 

“That indicates it could be a very viable and cheap management technique for controlling deer in Tasmania.”

“What we could do to stop deer from habituating to those sounds of humans talking is use other human sounds such as cars revving, gunshots, potentially shouting, anything that indicates a human.”

Lucy said she used radio voices in the trial “Because they’re always at the same decibel, and ABC radio voices are always nice and calm.”

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