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Manitoba crows and magpies the target in annual shoot sanctioned by govt


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STE. ROSE DU LAC, Man. - Manitoba's crows and magpies may want to consider flying south again for a while. Either that, or don bulletproof vests.
The province's annual crow and magpie shoot starts this weekend - an event sanctioned by the provincial government.
"It's a holdover from when those birds were considered big-time agricultural pests," said Manitoba Conservation spokesman Jack Dubois. "(The hunters) are within the law in the sense that those two species of birds aren't protected under the federal or provincial law."
That means no hunting licence or special permit is required.
The event is run similar to a fishing derby, with participants being awarded two points for each magpie they kill and one point per crow.
Hunters have been known to bag up to 50 birds in a day at some Manitoba shoots. Whoever has the most points wins a trophy.
"It's just a sport," said participant Joe Wanicka. "There are about 10 clubs in Manitoba."
Some ranchers claim magpies are still a nuisance and will peck out the eyes of newborn calves or take chunks of meat out of an animal.
Wanicka said the corvid family of birds are also notorious scavengers, raiding other birds' nests for eggs and young ones.
"They wipe out all the little finches," maintained Dan Nault, a regular participant in shoots. "There's really nothing positive to say about them."
But naturalist Tom Rheaume, who wrote a book about a crows many years ago, calls the shoots "ridiculous."
"It's a waste of time and energy. It doesn't do anything to control the (corvid) population," Rheaume said.
"The crow has got a bad reputation because it's black. Your pet cat probably goes out and does more damage than a crow. They're the most intelligent bird we've got. They have family units. They mate for life, which is more than you can say for people."
Rheaume said bird counts indicate the corvid population has come down in the last decade, likely due to West Nile.

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