Crows are gourmets who prefer organic food and are specifically targeting organic products, according to angry Austrian farmers who have won permission to start shooting the birds.
Organic farmer Hannes Maier told local media that sometimes it was not possible to see the ground in his fields as the crows descended “in their thousands” to peck at his crops – while neighbouring farms that used pesticides and fertilisers to boost growth were ignored.
He said: “In a sense it’s good – we always said organic produce tastes better and the crows prove it – but they don’t leave anything for anyone else.”
Austria has one of the highest percentages of organic farmers in Europe and organic produce is big business.
The licences to shoot the birds were handed out last week in Styria, and this week the easternmost state of Burgenland also allowed hunters to start shooting the birds after organic farmers complained it was their crops that were most targeted.
Bio Austria – a group of organic farmers – made a formal application to be able to cull the crows – which are usually a protected species.
In the region of Seewinkel for example organic farmers said they expected to lose at least a third of their crops to organic food loving crows.
Erich Leyrer, an organic farmer in the region, said: “The plague of the crows is worse than it ever has been this year. We have tried everything to try and stop them. Shooting is now the last resort.”