Sunday, December 28, 2014

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Western NY

Chasing Away the Crows

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Rochester: Chasing Away the Crows
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You may notice some loud noises around Washington Square Park over the next few days. USDA Wildlife biologists started using non-harmful techniques Monday to disperse 30,000 roosting crows. These intuitive creatures aren't going anywhere without a fight.

After months of hoping they would leave on their own, Rochester renewed its contract with the USDA to use non-harmful lasers and pyrotechnics to disperse the flock of crows that has taken over the city.

"It takes away from the downtown experience. We have the Geva Theatre here, Saint Mary's Church, people come down here for a night out or to worship and shouldn't have to be harassed by excrement," said Norman Jones, Director of Operations for the City of Rochester.

Some crows flew away or simply moved to another tree, while others didn't budge an inch.

"There's been a lot of work done with moving crow roosts throughout the country. To my knowledge, it's not been moved period completely," said Mark Carrara, USDA Wildlife Biologist.

While many residents agree the birds have left behind an unsightly mess, it's still a spectacle they came out to watch.

"I wanted to see what's going on," said Norma Platt, Rochester.

At the Rochester Birding Association's annual bird count Sunday, Norma Platt says they counted 25,000 crows. The USDA says that number is accurate and estimates the same amount of birds returned since last year.

"In no way is this going to harm the birds; we're just trying to train them just as you would train a pet to not go in the house," said Carrara.

These tactics cost the city $13,000 last year and an estimated $20,000 this year. Carrara says it will decrease the size of the group over time.

The mess the crows have left behind from covered park benches, sidewalks and buildings is something the USDA says may never go away, but the city says there's some things you can't put a price on, like the 50-year-old trees Saint Mary's Church had to cut down last year to ward off the birds.

The USDA will be working through the night for the next few days, and while they say the crows will be back next year, for now, they'll have to find somewhere else to sleep. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP