Farmer’s Cannons Ruffle Feathers In Washington Co.

CLOVER HILL (KDKA) — Some people who live in Clover Hill, Washington County, are upset with one farmer’s method to keep the birds away.

Joe Sustrik has rented two propane cannons from the Department of Agriculture to frighten off crows. He says this is the first year crows have been a problem for him and they’ve destroyed $3,200 worth of his corn crop.

But some of his neighbors say they haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since he installed the cannons, which fire 24 hours a day. Neighbors say they go off every five or 10 minutes, blasting them awake.

Emy Yocum-Ramsey says she wouldn’t mind it so much if he turned the cannons off at night.

Karen Schade, another neighbor, says she doesn’t see why they have to be on at night while birds are nesting.

But Sustrik says keeping the cannons on all night helps keep deer away, as well.

He says he feels bad for the neighbors, but can’t see why they have a problem with it when he’s fine with it and he lives right next to the cannons. He also says the cannons definitely do their job in scaring off the crows.

Neighbors have been recording the noise and charting how often the cannons go off. They claim they go off every five or 10 minutes.

One neighbor family has contacted the Department of Agriculture and State Police to complain. They’re also checking with West Pike Run Township to see if the cannons violate any type of noise ordinance.

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  • John Doe

    The man is trying to protect his investment. Farmers are under tremendous pressure in today’s world. We do not need any more. The people who are complaining should wake up and realize that the crop we farmers produce (and sometimes lose) is what feeds them. Let their stomachs go empty, and I’m certain the cannons would no longer be an issue. Cannons like the ones shown here are a common practice and are far more humane than shooting. I imagine that if he shut the cannons off and started shooting, they would complain about cruelty to animals next. I have much respect for this man, keep up the good work sir!

    • A friend

      The crop is not this man’s livelihood. And there are no birds feeding at night. All they are asking is that it be turned off while everyone is sleeping, period. A little common decency.

  • JustSaying

    I’ll bet he would be glad to get rid of the cannons completely if his concerned ‘neighbors’ would pledge to relpace any lost income due to bird/animal foraging! I have another question regarding this. Who was there first, the farm or the ‘neighbors’? I suspect it was the farm and the ‘neighbors’ are some misplaced urbanites that thought living in the country would be similar to their surburban settings.

    • JustReplying

      Are you serious? Rudeness, bullying, and inconsiderate behavior have nothing to do with “who was there first”. And while you’re “just saying” and trashing the “neighbors” perhaps you should check into who really called the news people.

  • FarmersDaughter

    I must point out that you can easily see the size of the farmer’s crop in the video, and a small crop like his is NOT going to be sold to generate a serious livelihood. A small crop like this is a hobby, and while he may sell a few bushels at the local farmers market, he’s not going to be earning any substantial income by this small crop. If he had a large amount of acreage, using these cannons would be a different story… and in that case, he would probably have so much land the neighbors would be so far away they wouldn’t be bothered by it. Farmers are the backbone of America, and I am not in any way bashing his attempt to protect his crop, but in his case the farmer should probably just look for an alternative method (there are plenty) to shooing off the pests, or at least turn the cannons off at night. (One more point… having the cannons on 24/7 will eventually make the animals immune – especially crows.)

  • Anonymous

    Protecting your crops is one thing, being inconsiderate to your neighbors is completely different. All his neighbors are asking for are that the cannons be turned off at night. There is nothing wrong with asking for a bit of courtesy. If people in the area have to get up for work and school, the loss of sleep can be absolutely detrimental to their performance. One last thing, where IS Mr. Sustrik spending his nights?

  • Whataworld

    Nice way to bait the deer. They also become immune to the constant blasting of those cannons. Come hunting season they’ll be sitting ducks.

  • 6.5x47L

    I would personally like to comment on this situation, as I have all of my facts quite straight. Yes, you are semi correct in saying that “this is not his primary livelihood”. But just like any other business, it takes a decent amount of resources to start and maintain, regardless of the size. I would be willing to bet that these same pepole will also be the first to complain when the crop supplies are low and food prices are sky-high or, even worse, when food won’t be available. But I’m telling you right now, I don’t wanna hear itI And yes, the farmers have been there much longer than these neighbors. Mr. Sustrik was born on the farm. Control via shooting was also attempted on several occasions, however these neighbors have complained then too… I see a pattern, do u? Everybody wants to live in the country, but nobody wants to deal with the surroundings of the country. And if you REALLY have to ask, where Mr. Sustrik is sleeping 1. you obviously didn’t watch the video, and 2. if you can’t see his house from where you live, then clearly the canons aren’t close enough to you to be an inconvenience. These same neightbors have a habit of complaining about the farm life.. complain when manure is spread because it “smells bad”, shooting (safely) in the middle of the day, and now the way the crops are attempting to be protected. And we all know who called the news… the people who are complaining, THE NEIGHBORS! As I drive by this farm during the holidays, perhaps it is Mr. Sustrik who should call the police to report an ordnance violation of the gawdy and hideous display of decorations. I can see these things plain as day from 481! Not trying to bash anybody but pepole need to realize their surroundings, and in times like these, any investment is priceless, no matter the size of the crop. Not sure about anyone else, but $3,200 would rub me the wrong way too!

  • 7.62x54R

    Mr. Sustrik is a very nice person, I have personally met him. He lives on the property with the cannons don’t you think it would bother him more then the neighbors. He hears the same noise every night too. He is only doing what THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE recommended him to do. Maybe everyone should complain to them and not Joe. He is only trying to make a living. In this economy I don’t know about you but a loss of $3,200 would devastate my income! But I guess since everyone is made of money these days $3,200 isnt much. 6.5x47L States many facts about the neighbors and their numerous complaints. Sounds like they should sell their land to Mr. Sustrik so he can make his farm bigger and they should move to the city and deal with the round the clock noise associated there. Maybe even in to a little quiet town like Coal Center or California where even a train Comes hauling through at all times of the night blasting its horn! Its part of life and the neighbors need to learn to deal with it; he is not interfering with how they make a living why should they interfere with his. Its true this nation is just becoming a bunch of cry babies whinny nansy pansys! Mr. Sustrik We’re Hear for you!

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