“For Hunt, it’s a game, like a dog playing with a ball.” Falcons and buzzards are used in Ajaccio to scare away from the city center the some 200,000 passing starlings, whose droppings poison the lives of residents.
“We push the starlings from the city, which is not their natural habitat, towards the Sanguinaires”, a string of islands located seven kilometers from the center, explains to AFP Ludwig Verschatse, a falconer of Flemish origin.
He works with his wife, Gonda Vercaigne, to scare away the swarms of migrating birds using Hunt and Apollo, their two Gerfaut falcons, or one of their three Harris hawks.
An “ecological” method “respectful of animal protection”, used “for five years” by the town hall of Ajaccio and which “works very well”, told AFP Jean-Pierre Aresu, deputy in charge of hygiene . The presence of starlings is “a public health problem” he believes since they “can transmit bacteria to humans”.
Starlings form waves called “murmurings” and seem to dance in the sky. But if their aerial ballet leaves admiring spectators, on the ground, the surge of droppings covering cars and sidewalks is less appreciated by residents.
At dawn and dusk, for a week, the falconer has released one of his birds of prey to “create a feeling of insecurity” among the birds which, after a day in the hills around Ajaccio, in wild olive trees , join the city to spend the night, sheltered from the leaves of the plane trees.
– Startle, not eradicate –
The mission of Hunt, a young three-year-old falcon with a black head, speckled plumage and yellow beak and legs, is “to move between the tops of the plane trees and the group of starlings in order to prevent them from descending into the trees. , just by its dissuasive presence “, indicates the falconer.
“It takes an average of three years of daily work before the raptor has understood what is asked of it”, in this case not to kill the starlings and to come back to eat with his master, he adds, insisting: “We are not here to eradicate starlings but to frighten them”.
Nevertheless, due to the detection of a case of bird flu in Haute-Corse, France and therefore Corsica have been placed since Tuesday under precautionary measures that prevent the flight of birds of prey, ending earlier than expected to this frightening operation, which was planned until Sunday, you learned from the prefecture of Corsica and Ludwig Verschatse.
Installed near Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées), the Belgian falconer officiates in Corsica but also in other regions of France and even at the Roland-Garros tennis tournament to scare away pigeons.