The taste of the crow

Bird problemHow Xanten his crow to the move move want

For years they have been a nuisance on the Lower Rhine: crows. And always when they nest in droves in the middle of the city, croak loudly and fill cars and squares. We talked to the mayor of Xanten about how animal welfare and citizens' interests can be combined.

At Europaplatz, a central square in the middle of Xanten, crows nest in the trees. The Deutsche Post has now had to move a mailbox there because the pollution from the bird droppings was so severe. For some residents of Xanten, the fun - and the understanding of nature conservation - stop. The population of crows in the city is steadily increasing and all attempts to effectively drive the animals out of the city have so far failed.

Thomas Görtz from the CDU has been mayor of the city of Xanten since 2014. He is well aware of the problem. But he doesn't want to speak of a "crows plague", the term is too harsh. The crows might just have a good taste when they come to Xanten, he smiles.

"Maybe the crows have just as good taste as the many people who visit us every year."
Thomas Görtz, Mayor of Xanten

But joking aside: Thomas Görtz absolutely understands the complaints of people who live near crow colonies. The fact that the pollution with crow droppings is so extreme at the moment has to do with the drought: Because it rains less, the dirt is also washed away less. In addition, the birds are extremely noisy: the early risers started their concert at 4 a.m. - from spring to autumn.

"I'm a conservationist and animal lover. On the other hand, I have to see people's rights. That has to be reconciled."
Thomas Görtz, Mayor of the City of Xanten

Two hearts would fight in his chest, the mayor told us. It is about bringing animal and nature protection together with the interests and wishes of people.

The plan: crows should move

Getting rid of the birds entirely is probably not possible, says Thomas Görtz. And it is not at all about doing something bad to them. Hunting the animals is out of the question for the city. "All the reasons that make it necessary to hunt are not tenable," says Nabu. Shooting corvids does not help to protect the flora and fauna.

Pruning the trees to make it more difficult for the crows to nest or to drive them away was already forbidden by the Wesel district. This step is not in line with the EU Birds Directive. The rook is one of the particularly protected European bird species.

"We want to relocate the crows - to other trees that are not in the middle of the city."
Thomas Görtz, Mayor of Xanten

Hunting and pruning are therefore out of the question. The new plan is: The crows could be relocated to other trees with a trick.

The city is considering sprinkling the crows acoustically: Loudspeakers could make them leave the trees and nest in other places.

This method was already tested in Soest in spring 2020 - with success. After the birds had "blown the march", they moved. The Wesel district would first have to approve such a measure. It would also only be allowed outside of the breeding and nesting times.