A Lancashire farmer says he is being targeted by animal rights protesters after calling for a ban on shooting flocks of scavenging starlings to be lifted.
The 70-year-old farmer, who does not want to be identified, says he and other local farmers have been contacted after they spoke out about the problems caused by large flocks of the birds swooping on crops and eating up to a tonne of feed a day.
The farmers say the birds, which are a protected species, have grown in numbers since a shooting ban was introduced in 2004.
Now the flocks, including large numbers from continental Europe immigrating to Britain for winter, are descending on local barns and raiding the animals’ feeds as well as creating a mess, sparking fears of E.coli and other illnesses being spread.
The dairy farmer, whose family have run a farm near Garstang for more than 70 years, said: “We can’t cope with this any more. There are millions of them.
“Campaigners say numbers of starlings have been falling, but in the last year or two they are the biggest ever.
“We need a change in the ban allowing us to shoot them to protect our businesses.”
Farmers can obtain special licences from Natural England to shoot the birds, but the process is difficult and farmers must show they have taken every non-lethal step to rid the birds first.
Both the RSPB and local bird clubs are opposed to any culling of the birds.
RSPB spokesman Grahame Madge said: “We do hear the plight of farmers and know that this problem is affecting their businesses.”