Sweden: Crows are being trained to clean the streets

Source: Pixabay

Crows are being recruited in Södertalje, a city near the Swedish capital Stockholm, by a start-up that thinks they can be trained to clean the streets.
Incentivised by food offerings, dispensed from a bespoke machine designed by rookie outfit Corvid Cleaning, the birds can swap cigarette butts for treats.
Christian Günther-Hanssen said: “They are wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis.” If successful he said that this method could save the city at least 75% of the cost involved in cleaning the streets of cigarette butts.
Research suggests that the New Caledonian crow, the bird being recruited for the street cleaning, is as developed at reasoning as a seven-year-old human.
“They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other. At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish,” Günther-Hanssen said.
According to Günther-Hanssen the cost per cigarette butt picked up is 80 öre (around a third of a Euro cent) or more, and that, if effective, the birds could greatly reduce this cost.
According to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, some one billion cigarette butts are dropped on Sweden’s streets each year. It represents 62% of all litter and Södertalje itself spends 20 million Swedish kronor ($2.16 million) on street-cleaning each year.
If the pilot project goes to plan, the trained crows could take their cleaning skills to the streets.

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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]