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Southern cattle industry feels the bite of attacking crows

Date Posted: 2008-01-11

It’s a new problem for ranchers raising the famous “Ishigaki beef”, and they’re asking the Prefecture to help them.

Crows are attacking their herds on Taketomi Island in the southern Yaeyama island group, pecking away at the cows’ hind ends and eating the meat even as the cattle are grazing. The crows began their vicious attacks following a typhoon last year, and cattlemen have asked the government to help with extermination. By Prefecture law, crows are deemed harmful pests, but unless the Association of Hunting Groups takes action, ranchers say nothing will be done.

Ranchers say they don’t have the means to eradicate the vicious crows, and wants someone to create an extermination plan. The crows are attacking cows and their calves, and also water buffalo. On Kohama Island, ranchers say the cows’ flanks are gouged away, the meat eaten by the crows. The crows, they say, single out the calves for special attention.

The Ishigaki beef is extremely popular with restaurants, with 9,312 cows sold in 2006, bringing ¥4.08 billion. About 30% of those sales came from Taketomi Town. A calf sells for ¥400,000, and stock breeders say the crows are seriously hurting their livelihoods.

Cows who’ve been attacked by crows aren’t being sold; market buyers refuse to bid on them, leaving the breeders with damaged cows in the fields. Breeders say the crows attack at night, and attach themselves to the cows’ hips. The cows try to escape, but can’t shake the crows.

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