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Lasers used to target crow plague

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Lasers used to target crow plague
Crows. Photo: APA/DPA
12:20 CEST+02:00
For years the southern state of Styria has been battling a plague of crows, with thousands of birds shot annually. Now the Graz hunting community is using special laser pointers to deal with the problem.

According to Styria's shooting plan, 16,900 crows are shot throughout the state between July and December each year.

However shooting is prohibited in built-up and populated areas, particularly in and around the city of Graz.

Flocks of up to 300 young crows are currently causing problems at the Central Cemetery as well as in other parts of the city, said district hunting master Gerd Kaufmann.

"Of course they do a lot of damage. In Eggenberg there are people who keep chickens, which are taken by the crows. When these things happen, you should intervene."

The hunters have been scaring the crows away with green laser lights, "a kind of flashlight which drives the crows from their roosting trees," Kaufmann explains.

"There is for example a park where the playground equipment is totally covered in bird faeces. Crow faeces is very corrosive, quite apart from the hygiene aspect. If I go there five or six times with the laser and chase away the crows, they will not come back."

Crows are causing major harm to the state's agricultural sector, with estimated damages running into millions of euros.

According to the Chamber of Agriculture, the crows are currently very active. Fruit growers complain of the birds eating apples despite protective nets, while some vegetable crops have failed.

Ingrid Pirstinger, a vegetable farmer in eastern Styria, says she has not been able to harvest a single cucumber.

"They have all been pecked. Now they are taking the artichokes. We have to throw them away."

There is no compensation available for farmers affected by the greedy birds. 

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