Winegrowers Ask Environment Ministry to Lift Ban on Shooting Starlings

A flock of common starlings. (Stock photo by TASR/AP)

Bratislava, October 24 (TASR) – Large flocks of starlings, who appear to be more numerous than usual, are causing mass damage to the crops of winegrowers, who are now planning to ask the Environment Ministry for an exemption from the shooting ban, Slovak Agriculture and Food Chamber (SPPK) spokesperson Jana Holeciova told TASR on Monday.

Some winegrowers claim that starlings, protected by law in Slovakia, have caused them damage amounting to tens of thousands of euros this autumn.

According to Lukas Krasnansky from the VVDP Karpaty Grinava (Bratislava region) wine company, the most significant damage was caused in very recent days.

“We’ve recorded damage on ten hectares of vineyards, of which two hectares of yields have been destroyed completely by starlings. We’re talking here about the loss of 40 tonnes of crop, which represents financial damage of more than €20,000,” said Krasnansky.

Winegrowers are attempting to protect their grapes, but wrapping vines in special nets is too costly and demanding in terms of manual labour, while gas detonators have begun to lose their effect. They’re noisy enough, but the starlings appear to have become accustomed to them. Not even birds of prey seem to be effective, as flocks with hundreds of thousands of starlings don’t fear predators at all and even chase them away.

“Winegrowers from the Small Carpathian Winegrowing Region want to file a corporate request at the Environment Ministry to launch an administrative process aimed at gaining an exemption from the shooting ban concerning the common starling in line with valid EU legislation. The request has been signed by dozens of winegrowers from the Small Carpathian Winegrowing Region,” added Holeciova.