season is under way, to the tune of deafening silence. I haven’t talked to anyone who goes out specifically to hunt crows, but maybe some people do and have found a way to “utilize” the carcasses, as the law says you must.
Of course, people have always shot at crows. For a long time they were unprotected, and even after that the protection didn’t amount to much. It continued to be legal to shoot them if they were causing damage or about to cause damage. Figure that one out.
Crows used to be strictly country birds, but as everyone knows many of them have moved to town. You’ll see them pecking away at garbage left at the curb. They even raise families right within the city limits. We had a crow’s nest this year in our yard, near the top of a tall white pine.
Generally speaking, people don’t like crows and never have. In 1940, the Illinois Department of Conservation killed 328,000 crows in a big roost with a single dynamite blast.
“Most people dislike crows because they are just like we are,” said Carolee Caffrey, a behavioral ecologist at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. “They hang around in groups and make a lot of noise. They’re troublemakers who like to take the easy way out.”
Just like us.
But if it matters, Caffrey and others have found that crows are faithful to their mates and helpful to their parents, and maintain a lifelong attachment to their birth families.
And, though crows are notorious for damaging crops, it apparently isn’t all one-sided. One Midwestern farmer killed a lot of crows because he thought they were eating his corn. Turned out their principal appetite was for the European corn borer, and when the crows were gone the borers had things all their way.
As birds go, crows are smart. They play games and are clever thieves. One researcher saw a crow pull the tail of an otter that had a fish in its mouth. The otter dropped the fish and other crows swooped in and grabbed it.
Crows have also been seen pulling up the unattended lines of ice fishermen and stealing the bait.
After what I’ve just said about crows, you maybe like them better now. If not, you can take a crack at them in the long crow hunting season that began Sept. 18, takes a break from late November to late January, and then resumes until March 20.
Wisconsin has had a crow season for a few years now. Greg Dahl, the DNR’s area wildlife manager, said the hunting pressure hasn’t been great. Hardly anyone goes out specifically to hunt crows, he said, except perhaps in late winter when the season is closed on just about everything else.
As mentioned above, you’re supposed to utilize any crows you shoot, not throw them in the garbage or leave them in the field.
“I’ve heard of people eating them,” said Dahl. “I can’t tell you one way or the other what they taste like.”
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