British birds destroying farmland crops in Brittany

Jackdaws - small crows that eat corn - have caused €3 million-worth of damage to farmland crops in Côtes-d’Armor and Finistère (Brittany) in the past 10 years, according to a report.

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The report from the chamber of agriculture for Côtes-d'Armor was released in June this year, the same month in which farmers in the area launched a “distress call” to the government.

Increasing numbers of the birds (which are a member of the crow family) mean over 1,000 official reports of damage caused by the birds have been logged in Brittany this year. As jackdaws are not normally seen in farmland areas in Brittany, the report suggests they have come from the British Isles where they often live in cliffside areas.

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Farmers lose thousands in 'ravaged' crops

Local farmer Patrick Vidélo owns 30 hectares of farmland in which crops have been destroyed by the jackdaws feeding on them.

He told news source France 2: “I even see [the jackdaws] at night time. We’re having a hard time putting crops in place and now there’s nothing left. Everything’s been ravaged.”

Crops eaten by the birds this year were worth €40,000 to the farmer. Local government officials have since visited Mr Vidélo’s fields to see the destruction caused by the jackdaws in person.

A protected species

The jackdaw often lives in cliffside areas, not just the countryside or towns. However, they can also live quite happily in chimneys.

As they are a protected species in France, farmers need a special exemption to kill them. Even so, it is estimated that an authorised 20,000 jackdaws will be killed in France in the next two years.

Environmental agencies have instead suggested controlling the jackdaw population by demolishing abandoned chimneys, and diversifying food sources in the region so that the birds are not reliant on crops.

Regional environment body la Direction Régional de l’Environnement has launched a study into the construction of buildings in Brittany, to help them understand how the jackdaw population is spread throughout the region and what kind of food the birds are eating.

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