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Swans in Slovakia are being sent to 'detox' after getting addicted to poppy fields

In a remote village in the European country, hundreds of swans eat poppy seeds, ending up 'too high to fly.'

Swans in Slovakia are being sent to 'detox' after getting addicted to poppy fields
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Yevgen Buzuk

These swans are taking the phrase "flying high" to another level! At least 200 swans in Slovakia are refusing to leave poppy farms in the country’s Komarno town. A few months ago many of them became so addicted to the opium-containing seeds they just wouldn't leave. Not only are they causing over $10,000 in damages to the flowers due to their "drug addiction" they're getting so high on the natural narcotic that they are unable to fly, according to Baltics News. Slovak farmer Balints Pam shared, “They came gradually. We counted more than 200 swans here.”

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

The farmer in the area believe that the birds were most likely attracted not by the poppies, but by the large puddles of water in his fields that formed after heavy rains. The combination of water and green sprouts in one place has been to resist. Sadly so have the "narcotics." Just like any overdose, too much of it is a bad thing.

The birds often end up mixing poppies with rapeseed and then picking poppies from the flowers to the roots. This causes them to get intoxicated and as a result, they are tired and confused. The story turns tragic as they are easy prey for predators and die from overdosing. “The whole pod of the poppy is toxic, except the seeds. But the swans don’t know that and they hurt themselves,” farmer Pam added.



It's a lose-lose situation for all as the birds suffer so do the farmers. The damages caused by swans are not covered by private insurers or the government. They are also unable to get rid of the swans as they are a protected species in Slovakia. “Preparing for the next season, the grower should apply for an exception and to allow scaring away the protected birds. The swans that are already there can only be scared away with your hands. At the moment, nothing else can be done,” said Jans Kalavskis, representative of the Slovak State Nature Protection Service.


While animal rescue and volunteer groups like the Slovak Environmental Protection Agency have stepped in to try and relocate the swans, it's not been easy, per Oddity Central. The location change could perhaps help in ‘detoxifying’ the birds but experts are worried that the swans may return to the poppy fields after recovering.

A similar cause of birds being addicted to drugs was found in India in 2019. Poppy farmers in Madhya Pradesh were startled to find large groups of opium-addicted parrots who got high off the narcotic effects of poppy seeds. “One poppy flower gives around 20-25 grams of opium. But a large group of parrots feed on these plants around 30-40 times a day and some even fly away with poppy pods. This affects the produce. These opium-addicted parrots are wreaking havoc,” poppy farmer Nandkishore told reporters per NDTV. “We have tried making loud sounds and even using firecrackers to scare the birds. But nothing has helped. We are already suffering because of uneven rain, and now this. Nobody is listening to our problems. Who will compensate for our losses?" he asked.


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