Keeping a crow as a pet is a crime. Possession of a live crow requires a federal permit, which is difficult to obtain and typically limited to researchers and wildlife rehabilitators.
Federal Law permits the hunting and killing of crows by the thousands for sport. The only real limits imposed by the Code of Federal Regulations regarding crow hunting are a ban on hunting during nesting season, and a complete ban in the state of Hawaii. Otherwise, states are given wide latitude to determine the extent to which the practice is allowed — and in most it is a crow killing, family fun, free-for-all. According to Crow Busters, a crow hunting site:
[M]ore regulations than you can shake a stick at but all are in the best interest of the species we love so much. Shoot straight and be safe.
My good friend Suzie Gilbert, a bird rehabilitator for 20 years, explains “Crow Down,” an organized crow hunt sponsored annually by the Rip Van Winkle Rod and Gun Club of Palenville, NY. In a post for the blog site 10,000Birds.com she writes:
The “Crow Down” is a “hunting contest” where both adults and children slaughter as many crows as they possibly can in two days. Why do they do this? Look at the Maryland-based website Crow Busters, although I warn you you’ll need a strong stomach for the photographs. Here is a direct (and unedited) quote:
“… keep in mind the main reason why experienced crow hunters got into the sport in the first place, Fun. Plain old fashioned Fun.”
…The infamous Labor Day Pigeon Shoot was held in Hegins, Pennsylvania from 1921 until it was closed down in 1998. Live pigeons were trapped on city streets or bought at auction, held for days without food or water, then catapulted into the air as live skeet. Wounded birds were left to crawl away into the woods; sometimes, during breaks, children were encouraged to run across the field, scoop them up, and tear their heads off.
Eventually the operators of the shoot were sued, the case climbed through the courts, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled unanimously against it, calling it “cruel and moronic.” It was sent back to trial court, but by then the yearly event had become such a media circus – with live TV coverage and protesters taking down the license plates of shooters’ vehicles – that the sponsors ended it.
…New York Senators Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Tony Avella (D-Queens) have co-sponsored a bill (#S.4074) which would make it unlawful for “any person to organize, conduct, promote or participate in any contest or competition where the objective of such contest or competition is to take the greatest number of wildlife.” I urge everyone concerned about the concept of mass slaughter in this day and age – especially when it’s being taught to children – to contact them and express support for this bill, which would protect not only crows, but all the unfairly maligned species that have been targeted for hundreds of years. Groups across the country, including Project Coyote in California, are fighting similar battles.
More of Suzie’s post here.
My Pace colleague Andy Revkin was able to provoke a Facebook reply from the the club for his New York Times Dot Earth blog. It is as coherent a defense as you are likely to hear for the practice of organized crow slaughtering:
The negative rhetoric surrounding this event is focused on a game of insinuation, exaggeration, manipulation and assimilation. The naysayers have insinuated and then exaggerated the perceived facts so they may gain the needed attention to manipulate the masses about the credibility of similar events.