Farmers Strike Deal With JNF Over Hula Valley Cranes

Agreement calls for farmers to coordinate activities related to migrating cranes with Lake Agmon wetlands officials.

An agreement was reached Tuesday among the Hula Valley farmers, the Jewish National Fund and the managers of the Lake Agmon Wetlands site, following incidents that led to the arrest of several farmers.

The agreement, initiated by the JNF, calls for area farmers to coordinate their activities related to the migrating cranes preservation project with site officials and to avoid harassing visitors to the site.

In exchange, the JNF will withdraw the complaints filed with the police against the farmers.

The complaints were filed after a number of farmers broadcast loud music and set off explosives to scare migrating cranes from the area, and harassed birdwatchers at the wetlands site.

The farmers argue that the cranes project, jointly undertaken by the JNF and local farmers eight years ago to safeguard crops from the migrating birds while also protecting the cranes, does not sufficiently limit the agricultural damage that the birds cause.

Last week JNF chairman Effi Stenzler announced that the organization was searching for a long-term solution that would enable coexistence between the cranes and agriculture in the Hula.

Saving the cranes

"The cranes in Lake Agmon are an amazing natural phenomenon of international scale that must be preserved. At the same time, the JNF has always looked after human settlement in the Galilee region and will continue to do so."

Officials at the Society for the Protection of Nature welcomed the agreement.