Legal Battle Ignites Over Use of Cannons

December 20, 2017

Home buyers in a small town in western Wisconsin are suing the owners of a nearby farm for using propane-fueled cannons to blast blackbirds away from corn crops. The buyers allege in a lawsuit that the farm owners—Mark Klein, Wendell Klein, and Carlton Klein—concealed their use of the cannons while the couple had been negotiating to buy a neighboring home, which was also owned by Mark Klein.

The lawsuit further alleges that Klein had fired his prior real estate agent after the agent told him he was legally required to disclose the cannon devices that his brother operated on the farms neighboring the property.

The Kleins maintain that they’ve used cannons since the 1960s to protect their crops from blackbirds. They say the cannons aren’t intended to be lethal to the birds, but are used to spook them away. Wendell Klein told reporters that in an unprotected field in Trempealeau, Wis., the birds can damage up to 95 percent of crops. The cannons reportedly sound like shotguns.

A town ordinance requires cannons to be pointed at least 45 degrees away from the property lines of neighbors and to only be operated from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 1 through Oct. 1. The Kleins have faced previous legal actions and complaints in the town for their use of cannons over the years.

Source: “Neighbors Sue to Stop Anti-Bird Cannon at Corn Farm,” Associated Press (Dec. 18, 2017)