01/17/2013 01:57 EST | Updated 03/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Blueberry farm cannons frightening horses, farmers say

Propane-fuelled cannons used to scare birds off of blueberry farms must be removed because they are startling nearby horses, say a group of farmers in Langley, B.C.

The farmers say the cannons sound like gunshots when they fire and can be heard throughout blueberry season, which typically starts in July and ends in October.

"Horses by nature are a flight animal and of course these sudden noises can cause them to react very violently and unexpectedly,” said Kevin Mitchell, a Langley sheep farmer who also keeps horses. “So frankly I just stay out of my fields when the cannons are firing.”

But blueberry farmers say they need the cannons in order to protect their crop.

“Propane cannons are really the most effective one without going to a complete enclosed netting system,” said Mike Makara, Chair of the B.C. Blueberry Council.

Other solutions to the bird problem are too costly, Makara added.

Last year, a B.C. farmer filed a lawsuit against the City of Surrey saying the noise caused by cannons from nearby blueberry farms had lowered property values and forced neighbours to move.

Farmers in favour of having the cannons removed plan to speak at a Langley Township City Hall meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m.