In a vote of 3-2 on Thursday, the Utah Wildlife Board approved the state’s first crow hunt starting this fall. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), the decision came about after the steady increase of crows in the state for the past 24 years.
“Taking some crows will not hurt the overall population,” said Blair Stringham, the DWR’s migratory bird coordinator.
In fact—if the surveys of crow numbers are anything to judge by—the hunt will actually help fruit farmers and others affected by crow depredation. Utah will not be the first state to authorize a crow hunt to reduce the damage on fruit, corn, and grain crops. About 45 other states have also opened a season on crows for the same reason, although critics say the problem is not as widespread in Utah.
A number of people showed up at the Thursday meeting to oppose the decision and cited a lack of data outside of damage claims from some orchard owners. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that one of the board members, Mike King, also agreed with their doubts and questioned the DWR about where the complaints were coming from.
“I’m not anti-hunting. I understand it is one of the many tools used to manage wildlife, but this does not appear to be data driven or scientifically based,” activist Margaret Wynne said to the wildlife board shortly before the vote. “It is based on anecdotal information.”
Stringham responded that although the crows are not a statewide problem, they have been causing crop damage in some areas as well as eating the eggs of other, more vulnerable bird species.
“And they damage trees and cause lots of other disturbances in urban areas,” he added.
On Thursday the board also increased the daily bag limit for Canada goose to four birds and doves to 15.