“Biblical” Bird Invasion Devastates Slavonian Fields, Farmers Desperate

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Slavonian farmer Darko Grivicic painfully stated that he feels as if he’s walking around in a desert, and not in the usually rich and fertile Slavonian fields.

He sowed an ecological feast last autumn, and now his fields look like the Sahara, reports HRT. All of what he planted has been destroyed and eaten by wild geese and cranes, and there is devastation on all sides. The problem this year, according to Darko, is even bigger because of climate change. Darko’s field isn’t the only one that was ravaged by wild geese. Berislav Stefancic from Radovanje has had around 50 hectares of young crops consumed by birds.

The birds are omnivorous

“These are mostly omnivorous birds, except for the grey wild goose, which is a herbivore. At the pond, they have a good feeding ground as far as fish, snakes and frogs are concerned, and here is their salad in our fields. They eat mainly winter crops – wheat rapeseed oil and the like. We haven’t sown those in this area for the last two years because the damage they cause is terrible,” said Berislav.

Wild geese come because there are huge fishponds in nearby Oriovac, and an ornithological reserve for spoonbills has been declared there. From year to year, said Iva Ivezic from nearby Radovanje, more and more of these birds come, meaning that the damage to these crops is increasing.

“Every year the problem is getting worse and every time I come to the same question – These birds are protected, but who is working to protect us? This year, an extremely large number of birds have appeared that we can’t seem to deter or stop. We can’t see how we can solve this problem,” emphasised Iva.

Farmers on duty, firecrackers, drones – nothing helps

Local farmers have tried everything they can imagine, testifies Josip Culetic from Slavonski Kobas, who has had about 70 percent of his crops eaten by birds. Scarecrows, farmers on duty, he’s tried everything. He says that one can be on duty out in the Slavonian fields for 23 hours per day, and when you go home for lunch, the birds arrive and do their damage in the span of just five minutes.

“We’ve chased them away with drones, but the birds only moved within a kilometre or two. It’s a viscious circle, they don’t give up at all. At one point, they gathered and headed for the drone, trying to attack it. They aren’t stupid,” added Berislav Stefancic.

Darko Grivicic added that they threw around a million firecrackers and rockets trying to drive away the birds, but they failed even with that harsher measure. Darko went a step further. For about 20 thousand kuna, he bought and deployed 11 gas cannons, but it didn’t help much. He believes that these tenacious birds would get used to even 30,000 cannons.

“When we sow grain, they immediately land and take out the seeds. We put out the scarecrow, we come and stand around, and they’re brazenly standing on the scarecrows. They have become immune to all our measures,” added Iva Ivezic.

Local hunting associations are also powerless because hunting protected birds is prohibited, with the penalties for doing so being absolutely astronomical. Whoever kills such a bird pays a fine of up to 30 thousand kunas Darko Grivicic said that the situation is unsustainable, and so far, the birds have eaten 3 million kuna out of his pocket.

Some are already sick of the damage and are ready to poison the birds

Some local farmers are losing patience. Darko Grivicic testified that people are increasingly threatening to bring poison in from Bosnia, mix it with cereal and corn and scatter it across Slavonian fields.

“Facirol is an agent that can be mixed well into corn or grain and then scattered on the roads. I believe all the geese and cranes would die if they consumed it. The only question is where they die. If they die in the ponds, they’ll probably poison the resident fish as well. If someone catches that fish and takes it home there is a possibility that we end up accidentally poisoning people.  But it has to be said that this is an option that some people are ready for, if nothing is done,” claims Darko.

Slavonian farmers are now busy working on and announcing millions of lawsuits against the state that they claim is doing absolutely nothing to protect its own food producers.

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