Crow Busters

Why Hunt Crows?

Except for the handful of recipes for preparing crow, why in this day of rampant animal rights fanaticism, should we continue to hunt and kill an animal that has no real monetary value? The reason is that the crow has and continues to exhibit behavior that ranges from simply annoying to highly destructive. In agricultural areas, be it the pecan plantations of the south or the cornfields of the mid-west, crows continue to account for extensive crop damage, including the nasty habit of pulling up sprouting grain in the spring. Western crows have the worst reputation for crop damage, especially because of their habit of congregating by the thousands to feed on cultivated fruits and nuts. Often, they end the day by raiding a nearby watermelon field in order to save a trip to a distant watering place. Under such conditions, total crop loss can occur.

Where their ranges overlap, crows severely impact the annual waterfowl populations. When the hens begin laying, crows break open and eat the eggs. Later they will return and devour the fledglings. In the 40's a biological survey was conducted that really shows the damage crows can cause to the waterfowl in the Canadian "Duck Factory". It was shown that crows in close proximity to duck nesting areas took an average of 110 to 120 eggs or fledglings per crow per year, approximately 20,000,000 ducks. During the same year, sportsman only took 11,000,000 ducks. A common slogan of the time was "Kill a crow, Save a duck". At a time when waterfowl seasons are being dramatically reduced and even canceled, the survival rate of waterfowl at their breeding grounds is paramount. Shooting crows can make a real difference. Crows also take a heavy toll on upland game birds, including direct responsibility for at least 4 1/2 percent nest depredation on ruffed grouse and in California crows have been implicated in the endangerment of the Mojave desert tortoise. They also prey on small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels and have been known to kill prey as large as newborn lambs.

In the past twenty years, there has been a crow population explosion in the suburban areas around the country, especially the East. It is now common to awaken to the call of crows in many suburban backyards where only a few years ago, it was somewhat rare. In fact, many large roosts are forming within the beltways of major cities. Besides the nuisance factor of torn open trash bags and backyard droppings, the effect on the local songbird populations is incalculable.

More recently, crows have been identified as a carrier of the West Nile Virus, an encephalitis type virus that has killed at least 155 people to date. Crows have been found to be prime carriers of the mosquito borne disease because of their highly sensitive nature to the virus and their roosting habits. Blood tests are currently being conducted throughout the East (see CROW BUSTERS Cooperates with West Nile Virus Research), but this disease will continue to be a concern due to the crow's migratory nature.

Having said all this, I believe the crow deserves our admiration and should be considered more than just a nuisance bird by hunters. The crow is the most intelligent of all birds in North America. As such, they can be a challenging and worthy adversary that, kept under control, are a welcome part of nature's complex tapestry. Based on the outcome of man/crow conflicts throughout history, the crow will no doubt continue to be a source of many frustrating hours afield for those of us who call ourselves "Crow Hunters".