IMAGE: CROW HUNT ORGANIZERS
Kevin Rivoli  /  AP
Crow Hunt organizers Tom Lennox, left, and Lance Gummerson pose for a portrait Thursday with their Crowmobile in Auburn, N.Y.
updated 2/9/2004 11:48:57 AM ET 2004-02-09T16:48:57

Hunters traveled from as far as Arizona and Kentucky to this crow-weary town to kill more than 1,000 of the birds over the weekend, but protesters bemoaned the spectacle.

Organizers on Sunday said the two-day crow hunt drew about 200 participants who bagged 1,061 birds.

“It was very successful,” organizer Jon VanNest said. “Things went very smoothly. The hunters had a great time. There were no incidents.”

Residents in Auburn, about 20 miles west of Syracuse, have spent years grousing about huge numbers of crows roosting all winter long.

A crow-hunting contest that was held informally for several years became organized and publicized last year, when nearly 150 hunters bagged 348 birds in a weekend.

About 50 people marched in protest of the hunt Sunday, holding signs that read “Save our Crows” and “Go home Crow Busters, You’re not welcome in Auburn.” They urged lawmakers to ban wildlife shooting contests that lack limits on the number of animals that can be killed.

Rita Sarnicola, who heads The Crow Committee, said Auburn should celebrate its crows with a festival instead of shooting them, but VanNest said he plans another hunt next year.

About 15 years ago, Auburn became home to as many as 50,000 crows each winter, outnumbering the human population of 28,574.

In recent years, the roost has declined to about 25,000. Experts attribute that largely to the effects of West Nile virus, which is fatal to crows.

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