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Raven mad in Pond Inlet
Birds' prevalence causes problems for residents

Peter Worden
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 18, 2013

The Baltimore Ravens may have won the Superbowl, but many Mittimatalingmiut are not raven fans.

The common raven is a frequent site in Nunavut communities, but recently the birds have become too much to bear.

Concerns surfaced on the hamlet's Facebook public announcement board over local ravens preying on small birds such as ptarmigans, and the ravens' prodigious populations growing out of control thanks in part to its scavenging, omnivorous diet of food waste.

"There's more ravens here than usual that's for sure. It's causing trouble and people are not happy about them because they go through so much garbage," said Jeannie Maktar, a clerk in the hamlet office.

"Every day there are more. We see a whole bunch coming in. I don't know where they come from. They're bigger, much bigger than before. They're very active even up around -40 like it is today."

While the common raven has coexisted with humans for thousands of years, many Mittimatalingmiut now see them as pests.

The birds can live up to 21 years in the wild and are still loathed more than revered by many in Pond Inlet.

"We really need to reduce the numbers of ravens," reads the public announcement Facebook post.

"Do whatever you can to protect your garbage. That way the ravens will starve and naturally reduce their numbers."

Aside from simply securing trash, another poster suggested hanging a dead raven to ward off others. Maktar said one elderly person in the hamlet does keep a dead raven near his garbage area.

"I think it works for the other ravens not to come around. They read that as, 'Well our friend is gone now and this might happen to us,'" she said, adding that the hamlet's dogs and ravens work together to break into garbage.

"That's one thing we're noticing, that the ravens and dogs help out together, saying 'There's garbage here, open it and we'll eat it,' I suppose."

Ravens are now ahead of dogs as the most numerous animal in Pond Inlet, said Maktar, who couldn't say whether there were now more ravens than people in the hamlet of about 1,500.

While the hamlet is outside of a park, Garry Enns with Parks Canada, speaking about ravens, said Parks Canada's primary mandate is to preserve and protect nature.

"Ravens are part of that," he said.

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