Starlings travel in flocks of thousands

and are yet another threat to olive farms, especially in Apulia.

After the olive fruit fly and bac­te­r­ial blight, star­lings threaten Italian olive oil oil, in Apulia in par­tic­u­lar.

Local con­gress­man Giovanni Epifani, in a note addressed to the Regional Councilor for Agriculture and the Apulian mem­bers of the European Parliament, said: “I would demand a per­ma­nent deci­sion to insert the stur­nus vol­garis (com­mon star­ling) among the hunt­able bird species, in order to limit the seri­ous dam­ages that this wild bird is caus­ing to Apulian agri­cul­ture.”

Starlings are able to eat up to 5 kilos of olives per day and present a real threat to farm­ers. Their pres­ence in Italy is not new: these birds set­tle in Southern Italy (espe­cially in Apulia and Sicily), although dam­ages have been reported in Emilia-​Romagna and Abruzzo where they find sus­te­nance in the farm­lands, vine­yards and olive groves.

In addi­tion to raid­ing crops, the star­lings, mov­ing in flocks of thou­sands, blem­ish veg­eta­bles and fruits with drop­pings, mak­ing them no longer mar­ketable.

Flock of Starling

Epifani explained: “The ques­tion must be fore­most addressed to the EU because the goal needs to be the inclu­sion of com­mon star­lings among the hunt­able species through­out the hunt­ing sea­son. An EU Directive (79/​409/​EEC) actu­ally sets a gen­eral sys­tem of pro­tec­tion for all species of star­ling, by insert­ing, incor­rectly, the stur­nus vol­garis among the pro­tected species, thus caus­ing its exces­sive and uncon­trolled pro­lif­er­a­tion.”

The Common Starling (Wikipedia)

In order to sup­port farm­ers, in 2010 and 2011, the Apulia Region autho­rized a dero­ga­tion of the ban on hunt­ing (a nec­es­sary mea­sure to avoid infringe­ments of the European reg­u­la­tions), but the sit­u­a­tion has been get­ting worse from year to year.

“I ask that the Department of Agriculture makes star­lings hunt­able as soon as pos­si­ble,” Epifani said, “and, by a joint action of Apulian MEPs, the European leg­is­la­tors per­ma­nently fix this error caus­ing many prob­lems to the Italian farm­ers.”

Meanwhile, there is lit­tle relief in this “Black Year” for Italian olive oil with chal­lenges seem­ing to fly in from every direc­tion.



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