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Hungry ravens kill fourteen calves in central Sweden

David Landes · 13 May 2009, 15:19

Published: 13 May 2009 15:19 GMT+02:00

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“It’s been a 20 percent loss of my production,” farmer Lennart Gunnergård told The Local.

Since February, Gunnegård has had to carry the remains of 14 calves from his cattle farm in Lerdala near Skaraborg in central Sweden which has about 75 cows and an equal number of calves.

Normally, Gunnegård loses a calf or two each year to the hungry ravens.

“It’s natural,” he said.

But this year, the area raven flock has ballooned from less than ten birds to more than 30.

“It seems there are three ravens who sort of act like the ring leaders,” he said.

On one occasion recently, Gunnegård noticed a small group of ravens swirling shortly after he had placed a yellow ear tag on a two-day old calf.

“And just after I put in the ear tag, I looked out and saw two ravens start pecking the calf’s ear tag, while two others started going for its eyes,” he said.

“I ran out and shooed them away and luckily was able to save the calf.”

Gunnegård suspects the explosive growth in the size of the raven conspiracy is likely related to the recovery of the area’s convocation of Golden Eagles.

“There are a lot more wild animal carcasses in the nearby forests,” he said.

“With more food, the ravens are breeding more and having more young.”

Others theorize that the recent covering up of local garbage dumps has cut off one of the ravens’ primary food supplies, forcing them to prey on vulnerable livestock.

Gunnegård said ravens had also claimed the lives of a lamb from a neighbouring farm, adding he thinks it’s time to consider offering affected farmers compensation for livestock lost to ravens similar to payments made for animals lost to wolf attacks.

Story continues below…

“I’m not trying to call for help, but I think it’s time to have a discussion about how people who lose livestock due to attacks like this ought to be compensated,” he said.

Nevertheless, he’s wary of there being an overreaction and vilifying of the big black birds.

“I think the ravens are really nice. It’s just that things have got out of balance,” he said.

“There are simply too many ravens.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:15 May 13, 2009 by balbright
Someone just wanted to use "conspiracy of ravens".
16:58 May 13, 2009 by ronik
Sounds more like an "unkindnesss of ravens".
17:00 May 13, 2009 by dtes
how pathetic, this guy cant even protect his animals hes gonna wait for the government to come help him, people here do that a lot, whats the problem with taking matters into your own hands... ohh i forget folks arent allowed to have guns here either.
17:39 May 13, 2009 by lolly
In some countries like Australia, we can't kill Ravens as they are a protected species.

mebbe they should be compensated.

However with the lead paragraph stating that there's a conspiracy of Ravens, I'm loving the english language right now :-)
20:33 May 13, 2009 by tom.
Oh thats right, blame the Golden Eagles. They always take the rap for the ravens.
22:48 May 13, 2009 by Roger O. Thornhill
Don't farmers have shotguns?

Should go after the ringleaders.

00:09 May 14, 2009 by jimmyjames
Where I live in Arizona if your livestock is threated by coyotes,wolves,mountain lions,bob cats,ect. you simply take your shotgun/rifle/pistol and shot the predator. We are very aware and respectful of all species, especially protected species. Being Navajo my people have always had a deep religious respect for the land and all creatures. But if you let these predators prey on human livestock and come in close to human areas they loose their natural fear of humans and in time will attack humans themselves. I've seen it time and again. How long before the ravens decide to attack a small boy or girl instead of a calf or lamb ???? To me that is the paramount question. If you can't legally have guns. A good sling shot made with surgical tubing and steel ball bearings works wonders on ravens,vultures, and other birds of large size.
00:14 May 14, 2009 by hilt_m
they might be protected in Australia but plenty of farmers still shoot them, next time you see one in the country point your arm at it in flight, it will try to dodge as if to avoid being shot, also clap loudly when they are sitting they take off as if shot at. City crows won't do this.
00:16 May 14, 2009 by Roger O. Thornhill
Perhaps only the planning was done by the ravens, but executed by a murder of crows?
00:25 May 14, 2009 by Puffin
Perhaps he should invest in a bird feeder if this is an ongoing problem
04:31 May 14, 2009 by M7Man
Airguns are legal in Sweden, take out the ring leader and spook the rest with some well placed shots.... Voila'
04:49 May 14, 2009 by Marley420
Isn't there a restaurant in Stockholm that serves fresh raven soup, oops did I say raven, I meant chicken...
07:09 May 14, 2009 by kittennipple
In Oklahoma we would have a festival. It isnt always good to take matters into your own hands because some over zealouse farmer can wipe out an entire species but when you have a population of animals that outgrows the natural balance you have a festival. This means once a year on the years that the animals numbers are too high you have a compitition. There is always lots of food, and dancing and the person who brings in the most animal carcasses or if you can only shoot a certain number then the largest carcasse will recieve a prize. By the way this tactic makes money instead of having the gov. shell out the dough!
07:32 May 14, 2009 by Dazzler
Perhaps the EU and the UN can get together and compose a strongly written letter denouncing such actions by the birds and threatening them with sanctions. That'll teach em!
08:42 May 14, 2009 by Inletwatcher
I think the slingshot idea is a good one. Its quiet, cheap and very effective. Slingshots are quite handy actually.

09:05 May 14, 2009 by Nemesis
Exterminate them, or delete them if you are a Cyberman fan.

Seriously, in Sweden, the crows and mapgies need to have there polulation reduced, by shooting to less than 10% what they are now.

There needs to be some planned land management involved. Sweden has rules for everything else, why have they no rules against airborne pests.
13:20 May 14, 2009 by villjobba
"I think the ravens are really nice. It's just that things have got out of balance," he said.

This guy is clearly suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
02:53 May 17, 2009 by Coalbanks
They are hungry because the eagles are competing with them for food, garbage is inaccessible & they have had success killing calves/lambs. Unless you kill some of them they will keep at it. They learn quickly which areas to avoid - they also learn to attack humans who harrass them! Good luck!
11:22 May 17, 2009 by Yanksalot
The calves probably deserved it!
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