Dealing with Troublemaking Ravens
Question: We are a small family farm and raise chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. I know that there is a provision in the Fish and Game regulations that allows landowners to destroy (shoot) crows that are damaging farm fields or other crops. However, we have a problem with ravens that have eaten many eggs and disturbed our birds on nests. We have had zero hatches this year. Most of our income usually comes from chick hatches and we can barely pay the bills this year. These ravens are literally going into our coops, barns and some of our birds have had injuries defending their nests. Are there any provisions for those of us who raise livestock and not crops? (Jessie)
Answer: We are very sorry to hear about the difficulties experienced at your farm. You are correct in that federal and state regulations allow the taking of crows by landowners, tenants or other authorized parties when crows are committing or about to commit depredations upon agricultural crops and livestock. Although the American crow is listed as a protected species under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the federal government allows the taking of problem crows without a depredation permit (Code of Federal Regulations Title 50, section 21.43) as do state regulations (CCR Title 14, section 472). There is also a crow hunting season which runs from Dec. 1 through Apr. 4.
Ravens are another matter entirely, as they are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and a Federal Migratory Bird Depredation Permit is required to kill ravens that are causing damage to your farm.
A depredation permit should always be your last resort. It is intended to be a short-term fix, not a long-term solution. There could be opportunities to better protect and more safely house the chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese on your farm to keep out ravens and other potential predators. Secure, predator-proof housing is the best defense to protect the birds you raise.
Hazing is another legal option to keep the ravens away. You do not need a federal depredation permit to harass or scare ravens away, provided the birds are not killed or injured in the process and they are not sitting on active nests and disturbed to the point it causes the eggs not to hatch or their chicks to die or become injured. The federal depredation permit application will specifically ask you what nonlethal deterrents such as hazing or harassment you have tried and what long-term deterrent measures you intend to take to eliminate or reduce the need for killing ravens in the future. We wish you and your family farm better success in the future.
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