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Winging It: Mike Masterson, Alyssa Ervin and their hawk on the Miracle Mile.

Pest Control On Wing And Preyer

LA BUSINESS JOURNAL – August 4, 2014

ISOTECH uses falcons, hawks to chase birds from client properties.

No poisons, no spikes, no netting. Alyssa Ervin doesn’t use the standard tools of the anti-pigeon trade.

Instead, she opts for five birds of prey. Their mere presence is enough to frighten away pigeons, gulls and other nuisance birds from commercial properties.

Ervin works for ISOTECH Pest Management Inc. in Covina. She uses two falcons and three hawks (the hawks are smaller) to keep other birds away from commercial buildings so they don’t spread their mess around or otherwise annoy tenants.

ISOTECH first offered the service when the Santa Monica Place mall reopened in 2010 and management needed to chase pigeons and gulls from the outdoor food court. Now about a dozen properties from the beach to the Miracle Mile to downtown Los Angeles have signed up, said ISOTECH Chief Executive Mike Masterson.

It’s especially popular at properties with fountains and outdoor patios, areas where other anti-bird strategies aren’t practical, he said.

“People want to be outside and have a nice relaxing lunch, but there are all these birds around,” Masterson said. “Once we started offering this, property managers were blown away. They see it works and that it’s all natural.”

Masterson acknowledged that the hawk and falcon patrols are more expensive than other pigeon-abatement methods, but that’s because it’s an ongoing service that requires avian visits three times a week.

Ervin, a licensed master falconer, whistles and uses other voice commands to instruct her birds to perch on a certain spot or fly around a particular area. They get quail meat treats for a job well done. The idea isn’t to kill pigeons or gulls – just to scare them away.

“It’s all about choosing a high perch that makes the other birds feel uncomfortable,” she said. “It’s about the hawks and falcons claiming the territory as their own. Just keeping them visible is the best thing we can do to keep pigeons and seagulls away.”

Which is not to say the hawks don’t sometimes go on the offensive. When they do, Ervin calls them back by swinging a cord holding a lure.

“I throw my lure, and they know I’m going to give them some food – something easier than tackling that pigeon;’ she said.

James Rufus Koren

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