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Thousands of crows fair game for Austrian hunters

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A crow.
12:50 CET+01:00
Almost 20,000 ravens, crows, magpies and jays can be legally shot in Carinthia from July after the state government ordered a cull to protect farmland.

A total of 19,700 crows and other birds will be fair game for hunters between July and March - but they are protected for the rest of the year to allow them to lay eggs and raise their fledglings.

The rule is intended to protect the birds until they are capable of flying and can leave the nest, and is in accordance with the European directive on protecting birds.

Farmers say crows and their relatives damage corn, fruit and grain crops. They are particularly destructive for organic crops and also search for food in silage bales and greenhouses.

Freydis Burgstaller-Gradenegger of the Carinthian Hunting Association told the ORF that the guidelines for shooting birds are strict, to ensure that the bird population is kept under control but is not dramatically reduced. “A cull can be very helpful as it is an effective way to ensure the birds stay away from farmers’ fields in the short and medium term,” she added.

Small game such as hares and pheasants are also threatened by crows and ravens, as are songbirds. “They will eat eggs and young birds as well as young hares,” Burgstaller-Gradenegger said.

When the hunting season kicks off in July hunters are obliged to report each time they kill one of the birds and the Carinthian Hunting Association will be monitoring the situation to see if the cull is effective.

A crow cull was recently announced in Upper Austria and was met with violent protests by animal rights activists.

In Vienna, around 200,000 rooks from Russia winter in the capital every year and have reportedly become a nuisance, strewing litter, eating plants and damaging gravestones in cemeteries.

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