1918: It Is Well that No Protection Be Afforded the Bird


The Common Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos); frontispiece of The Crow and Its Relation to Man (E. R. Kalmbach, 1918).

When feeding on injurious insects, crustaceans, rodents, and carrion, and when dispersing seeds of beneficial plants, the crow is working largely for the best interests of man; when destroying small reptiles, amphibians, wild birds, poultry, corn, and some other crops, when molesting live stock and distributing their diseases, and when spreading seeds of noxious plants, the bird is one of the farmer’s enemies; when destroying spiders and mollusks, however, its work appears in the main to have a neutral effect. The misdeeds of which the crow has been convicted greatly outnumber its virtues, but these are not necessarily equal in importance. Much of its damage to crops and poultry can be prevented, while the bird’s services in the control of insect pests can ill be spared. At the same time no policy can be recommended which would allow the crow to become so numerous that its shortcomings would be greatly accentuated. As the capabilities of the crow for both good and harm are great, it is believed that an extermination of the species would have ultimate consequences no less serious than an overabundance.

Inasmuch as this investigation aimed at reaching general conclusions respecting the status of the crow, in order that our attitude toward the bird might be based on sound economic principles, it may be said that the laws relating to it, at present in force in most States, are altogether satisfactory. It is well that no protection be afforded the bird and that permission be granted for shooting it when it is actually found doing damage. Bounties can not be recommended, neither can a campaign of wholesale destruction where complete extermination is the object sought. However, a reasonable reduction of numbers is justifiable in areas where there is an overabundance of the birds. The attitude of the individual farmer toward the crow should be one of toleration when no serious losses are suffered, rather than one of uncompromising antagonism resulting in the unwarranted destruction of these birds which at times are most valuable aids to man.

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