`After the Olive Fruit Fly and Bacterial Blight, the Dreaded Starling

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After the Olive Fruit Fly and Bacterial Blight, the Dreaded Starling

Dec. 15, 2014
Marco Marino

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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.

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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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