October 24, 2017 / 4:12 PM / 2 years ago

Thousands of migrating pelicans get free lunch in Israel

Migrating Great White pelicans are fed as part of an Israeli Agriculture Ministry funded project aiming to prevent the pelicans from feeding from commercial fish breeding pools, at a water reservoir in Mishmar Hasharon, central Israel October 24, 2017.REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

ISRAEL (Reuters) - A visit from tens of thousands of migrating pelicans may be a gift for bird-watchers, but for Israeli fish farmers it can be costly. In response, Israeli authorities have taken to feeding the birds to help preserve the farms’ stocks.

Staff members of staff at the reservoir in Mishmar Hasharon feed the pelicans with six tonnes of fish three to four times a week, during the three months that the pelicans are flying over Israel, in a project funded by the Israeli Agriculture Ministry.

Estimates of the number of birds that pass over Israel each year range from 75,000 to over 100,000. They migrate from southern Europe to spend the winters in central Africa.

“When they pass here they make a lot of damage in the pools of the fish,” Zvika Gerber, CEO of Afikei Emek Hefer Communal Water Company, told Reuters.

“They eat here and in the north, and then they have enough food to continue to the south of Sudan.”

Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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