The Italian Almanac


Italian News - August 12

A flock of gluttonous herons is pitting environmentalists against a worried local official who objects to their habit of dining off choice trout grown at the province-run fish farm.

The food available at the Merano aquaculture farm is so tasty that other herons are now arriving for the free dinners. Farm manager Peter Gasser says the herons have snapped up as much as 40% of the estimated one million fish grown in huge open-air vats and are cutting profits. The birds are particularly fond of young speckled trouts, a costly variety that human customers also crave.

The herons reportedly swoop down on the area early in the morning, before workers arrive, or just after they've finished their evening shift, and all efforts to shoo them away have failed. The problem is that initially, there were only some 20 herons nesting in the area but Gasser believes that word must have spread as some 50 others have joined them this year.

Environmentalists have asked the provincial government to cover the vats with netting but this will have to wait till next season. It's too late now. He wants officials to take action now. Environmentalists fear that he just wants permission to start the shooting season early.