§ 114. Sir C. Osborne
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he 133W is aware that over 20 per cent. of the pea crop from 9,300 acres in North Lincolnshire has been lost or damaged by wood pigeons and rooks at an estimated cost of £30,000 to the local farmers; when his investigations into the possible use of narcotics will be completed; in view of the fact that they are used with success on the Continent, if he will allow their use in the United Kingdom under his Department's supervision; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Mackie
I am aware that bird damage to pea crops can be very heavy but I am advised that the scale of the losses in North Lincolnshire is likely to be much less than the hon. Member states.
Experiments with stupefying baits against wood pigeons are continuing, but we have not yet evolved a baiting technique which is both effective and without risk to protected species and game birds. It is therefore too early for my right hon. Friend to consider allowing the general use of stupefying baits under licence against either wood pigeons or rooks.
I have no knowledge that stupefying substances are used on the Continent against wood pigeons. I understand that in places in France they are used in severe winter conditions to take rooks but not to protect individual crops.