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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

High school falconry whiz scaring away Saga's crows


SAGA — Misato Ishibashi, a high school student known for her exceptional skill as a falconer, has embarked on a daunting challenge: driving away the flocks of crows that scavenge scraps from garbage in the city of Saga.

News photo
Bird's play: High school student Misato Ishibashi, a skilled falconer, shows off her Harris hawk last month in the city of Saga, which has turned to her to combat scavenging crows. KYODO

Since hawks are a crow's worst nightmare, the Saga Prefectural Government turned to Ishibashi, 17, to drive the birds away from the city center.

Recent test runs with her Harris hawk, Momotaro, have proved effective so far, according to Saga officials.

Seeing the hawk on her arm "scares the hell out of crows," said Ishibashi, who began to practice falconry at age 5 and often helps farmers protect their crops from crows and other birds. "Crows don't dare come close."

According to the officials, crows in fiscal 2010 caused around ¥66 million worth of agricultural damage in the prefecture, with the city of Saga itself suffering one-third of the damage.

"Local hunting organizations are also helping us shoot crows, but that's far from enough," a prefectural official said. "We're pinning our hopes on this new method."

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