Huge flocks of starlings have settled like a plague in an area of Kentucky in the United States, causing growing concern among the people who live there.
GV Flocks of starlings in sky
GV Starlings settling on trees
GV Flocks circling in sky
GV Birds on corn pan to bird flying
GV Miller's farm
SCU Henry Miller speaking
GV County hall and street scenes in Hopkinsville (3)
CU Man speaking (3 shots)
COMMENTARY: "There are said to be ten to twelve million of them returning each day to the pines of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to roost. The army's been thinning the forest hoping to move the birds away, but the starlings have spread into surrounding Christian County -- the most productive agricultural area in Kentucky. There the birds eat seven-and-a-half million pounds of grain each day -- about two million dollars' worth last year -- and they spread disease to pigs, reducing Henry Miller's thousands of hogs to less than a hundred."
HENRY MILLER: "They've ruined our hog production, that's all. We sold us out and we just quit 'til the bird have gone. And when the birds have gone we'll go back into producing breeding stock for farmers -- boars and sows."
COMMENTARY: "The County seat, Hopkinsville, knows the starlings bring no good, because some people have been hospitalised with a respiratory infection carried by the birds. The talk now is of eradicating the starlings, but there is a lot of red tape to be cut."
LOCAL RESIDENT: "You know, you go to a Federal Agency, or your local Congressman and you say 'we've got a bird problem', and the first thing is they laugh a little bit and they say 'what is it?' They can't realise the magnitude of the problem down here, the health, safety and economic problems that we have from it. Really and truly it's not isolated to Christian County, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, it's a problem in the whole south-eastern United States."
Initials SC/1751 SC/1814
A transcript of the commentary and interviews follows. An alternative script is provided overleaf.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Huge flocks of starlings have settled like a plague in an area of Kentucky in the United States, causing growing concern among the people who live there.
In Christian County, a productive agricultural area, the millions of birds are estimated to eat 7 1/2 million pounds (about 3 1/2 million kilograms) of grain each day. Last year, this amounted to about 2 (million U.S. dollars (about 900,000 pounds sterling) worth. The starlings are also to blame for spreading disease among the County's pigs. The fatalities among the thousands of pigs Henry Miller -- a local farmer -- once produced, has left him with le??? than a hundred. He has sold his farm and says he won't go back into the pig business until the birds have gone.
Sickness has also spread among the people of Christian County since the birds became a problem; some have had to be treated in hospital for respiratory infections carried by the birds.
Attempts by the army to disperse the birds by thinning their roost among the pines of Fort Campbell have only extended the problem to other parts of Christian County. Local residents, anxious about the health hazard and the loss to their crops, complain that Federal agencies and local congressmen have failed to recognise the magnitude of the bird problem. Many want the birds eradicated, but regulations will make this difficult even if the authorities will agree to it.