Crowpocalypse 2018

From Mike Nigbur, everything you ever wanted to know about crow abatement. As I have said for many years; “In the war between the City Council and crows, the crows will win. They are smarter.” My personal opinion is that we should just have a person on call to come clean up as needed each morning.

Good morning All….

It is that time of year that we begin our crow hazing efforts.

Since there are several new faces to the City a bit of history may be in order.

Crows have been an issue in Rochester for decades (an example is the attached 2001 report to the Park Board) and throughout the rest of the world as well. Over time there has been some minor efforts locally at attempting mitigation efforts, with little ongoing success. Due to increasing issues in several years preceding 2011, City Council authorized the use of a predator (hawk) service hoping that would have an impact on the crow population in the downtown. Unfortunately that had little effect and in 2012 the City worked with the US Dept of Agriculture to put in place a full scale effort to try and manage the crows. During this contract period teams of Parks Staff and US Dept of Ag staff worked in shifts over 24 hour periods over a several week time to test different mitigation activities intended to disrupt the flight and roosting of the crows in the downtown area. At that time it was estimated by USDA that there were in excess of 20K-30K crows downtown. Park staff continued variations of the efforts throughout the remaining 2012/2013 season once US Dept of Ag completed their initial work.

The Council has continued to make crow abatement a priority. As such each successive year of efforts since 2013 by park staff have seemed to result in fewer and fewer complaints regarding the crow nuisance. Our work has not eliminated the issues but it has seemed to disperse the crow population where it has become less problematic by comparison of when we started our concentrated efforts in 2012. We still have times that large flocks will congregate in the downtown which will obviously create issues and ongoing smaller issues around the downtown. In addition to our efforts Mayo has also provided crow mitigation efforts for some of their properties. They have also embraced our partnership and have allowed Park staff to enter their parking ramps to aid in our efforts.

We have provided Public Service Announcements each year about our work and have received good media interaction with both print and video sources. This publicity supports our efforts which helps educate the public about why crows are attracted to the area, what you can do about them and the results of them being here. One of the obvious main issues of the crows are the droppings that are left. Generally, there is no clean up performed by staff for crow droppings. Rain and snow (and the associated snow removal) has been relied upon for natural cleaning. With that being said we have dispatched crews only on two occasions over the past 6 years to help clean up areas that have been blasted by the crows. As you can surmise we do not have staffing to address the daily, weekly or even monthly cleanup efforts that some may desire.

Cost for abatement of Crows is not cheap but because of ongoing efforts the costs has decreased and has generally plateaued over the last few years. Costs incurred include staff time from across several business units, supplies and seasonal staffing. It was determined early on that equipment & fuel was not to be factored into the costs.

2013 Total Expenses of $47,734.73

2014 Total Expenses of $46,107.87

2015 Total Expenses of $31,802

2016 Total Expenses of $32,665

2017 Total Expenses of $33,982

2018 Expenses to date of $17,357

For 2018/2019……..Starting Monday November 5 we will begin crow abatement activities for the season. The plan for 2018/19 abatement activities will be similar to the program we had performed during the last several years in terms of time of year (early/mid November to early February), hours of operation, locations for service. The starting and ending of our efforts is based on the crows habits. Currently we are seeing an increase in the downtown crow population such we believe it is warranted to start the service.

We will be using seasonal staff, permanent staff and periodic management staff participating in the activities again this year. Depending on the demand or need we will be operating 1 or 2 (2 person) crews from late afternoon (3 pm) until the completion of their 8 hour shift. This work will be taking place only during the week days. No work is planned for weekends or holidays. All staff will be driving City Park vehicles and wearing Park vests. This activity will be secondary to snow removal or other high priority work items. As typical we are focusing our efforts on the downtown core, though some activities will occur on some of the fringe areas of the city and of the downtown to dissuade crows from entering downtown. We will again be utilizing various techniques such as distress calls, lights, lasers, airsoft pellets, and starter pistols. Overall these techniques seem to have been working with keeping the complaints to a minimum. Both Police department and Mayo have been notified of our work for this season. Mayo continues to be cooperative with our efforts as well as providing some of their own mitigation efforts.

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