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Scare crow tactics ruffle feathers of animal lovers
Updated: 2004-03-07 13:40

Animal rights campaigners are flocking to protest a government-supported move to scare off tens of thousands of crows from the city of Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

With the permission of the municipal government, a local feather products factory has made and installed 200 fake crows in trees across the city to scare away the real birds.

Growing numbers of the birds have come to nest in the city in recent years, drawn by the ample supplies of food and water and clouding the sky when flying en masse.

Some residents support the anti-crow move, saying the birds cause too much noise in the morning and at dusk, while passersby and cars are bombarded with bird droppings, posing an accident risk by distracting drivers and pedestrians.

The birds are traditionally regarded as evil in China and their appearance, especially in large groups, is thought to be a harbinger of disaster.

But opponents argue it is illegal to disturb the crows.

Zhu Chengwei, head of the city's wild animal protection agency, said a solution should be worked out by the wild animal authorities in accordance with wild animal protection laws.

It was unlawful for individuals and enterprises to displace wild animals, and the effect of such move might be limited if it was done without scientific methods and coordination, he added.

Local legislators say Nanjing Street, where most of the crows settle, is a major avenue and a showcase of the city. "Crow pollution" will make it dirty and damage the city's image.

Liu Mingyu, Professor of Life Sciences at Liaoning University, refuted the argument, saying crows migrated to urban areas as they adapted to the changing environment.

He said human activity had destroyed the birds' natural habitats and they were forced to live in cities to survive. "Only this way can the crows live on," said Liu, who specialized in research on animals for 40 years.

Liu argued that humans should not interrupt what he called the crows' evolutionary process. Crow-produced pollution was minor compared with car exhaust emissions and industrial smog.

He said there were other solutions, such as sound insulation boards at apartments and more cleaning work. Humans needed to learn ecological ethics and tolerate the negative impact of animals, and to live in harmony with them, Liu added.

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