A Murder of Crows: Culling Corvids in Northern Cyprus

Published in Human Ecology

“Culling, the killing of non-human animals, is practiced worldwide as a form of population control and environmental management. In tandem with other practices, culling is expected to deliver ecosystems valued by those performing such tasks. Examining its efficacy is crucial in maintaining a cull’s legitimacy and ensuring its ecological value…..”

“…hunters have put corvids in the position of opportunistic competition with themselves for wildlife resources as part of an entanglement of war (Dalla Bernardina 2009). However, the opportunistic intelligence and flexibility of corvids’ social organization (Baglione and Canestrari 2016; Clayton and Emery 2007) does not make them the competition. Instead, it is what enables them to flourish as a species in the niche of competitive opposition offered by the social conditions of environmental management that have emerged in Northern Cyprus. This environment of competition is something explicitly stated by culling authorities, who describe and reproduce related infrastructure – create a niche – based on the idea of corvids as competitors…”

“The culling of corvids in Northern Cyprus is inefficient because it disproportionately targets males, as well as disrupting corvid social structure thus triggering higher reproductive strategies that serve to maintain corvid population densities. Consequently, we recommend strategies going “beyond the war” (Orion 2015) to control corvid populations, beginning with taking into consideration their social organization and the timing of their breeding season. Annual culling uninformed by such considerations is inevitably inefficient and cannot achieve its stated goals, potentially delegitimizing environmental management practices…”