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Pigeons Terrorise Our Farmers

Last updated on 2nd February 2021

During a visit to Ribeiro Serrao and Rochao  in Camacha by members of the United Democratic Coalition (CDU) today party official Ricardo Lume spoke to farmers and witnessed at first hand the devastation caused to crops by Trocaz pigeons, also known as the Madeira Laurel pigeon or long-toed pigeon (Columba trocaz), a protected species.  As such, he demanded that the Regional Government takes steps to create a compensation scheme to help farmers whose crops are totally destroyed. Furthermore, if the government support and protect the pigeon, who is going to support and protect the farmer?

He went on to say that, “it is heartbreaking to see decimated crops which now have no commercial value and cannot even be used to feed farmers and their families. It is unacceptable for the region’s farmers to pay the bill for the costs inherent in the special protection guaranteed to the Trocaz pigeons. It is unacceptable for the Regional Government to remain so indifferent to the social dramas that plague the rural world and family farming. When the struggle for survival of small holdings is at stake, it is essential that the CDU implement concrete and effective measures to protect farmers. If the Pigeon-Torcaz has special protection, farmers cannot be abandoned.”

As part of their commitment, the CDU will deliver to the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Madeira a draft Resolution with the following objectives:

1) That the Regional Government carry out, within a maximum period of 30 days after the publication of this Resolution, a survey of the losses caused by the Torcaz pigeons this year, to agricultural producers in the Autonomous Region;
2) That the Regional Government assumes responsibility for compensating farmers that may be considered as harmed by the action of the pigeon.
3) The process of calculating the compensation due for the damage caused must meet the following requirements:
a) In cases where there is total destruction of the crop, with the impossibility of any production, the calculation of compensation will be based on its real value, according to the current prices in the Region at the time of the occurrence, deducting other compensation that the applicant has right to receive from public or private entities;
b) In cases where there is partial damage, without jeopardizing production, the compensation will correspond to the amount of the expenses with the repair and recovery of the affected crops.

The deputy also said that if the regional Executive  “continues to ignore these just demands, the CDU, together with the farmers, will develop other initiatives to show their discontent against Government inertia.”

The Trocaz pigeon is an endemic species of the Autonomous Region of Madeira, originating from the Laurissilva forest. It has been a protected bird since 1986, and is listed on national, European and world lists of species that are important to safeguard.

Of course another alternative which was not mentioned, were natural deterrents such as birds of prey.  Cost effective un-natural deterrents should also Government subsidised netting and poly tunnels.

Samantha Gannon

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