Birdpocolypse 2012 Update

My money is still on the crows, but here is the latest from Rochester’s Chief Crow Officer.

I am guardedly optimistic about this week’s crow abatement effort by the USDA and Park Department staff.  Crows came in heavy on Sunday night and we had a number of complaints Monday morning particularly in the areas around Park Tower, the Salvation Army and Civic Square apartments.  The Mayo Graham ramp and the Silver Lake power plant were other hot spots.  4 USDA crews and one park department crew started work on Monday afternoon focusing on an area roughly including Silver Lake on the north, Apache mall on the south, Oakwood Cemetery on the east and Saint Marys on the west.  By Tuesday night the numbers were greatly reduced and by Thursday night the problem was largely limited to pockets of birds concentrated in scattered coniferous trees.  As the problem was reduced in the downtown  area, the crews expanded the patrol area based on complaints and calls received by the City.

The USDA primarily used lasers, spotlights and distress calls for the harassment.  If those methods failed, they used starting pistols and “whizzers”  which act something like a bottle rocket. They used the “bangers” in some of the more open outlying areas.  The bangers send up an explosive charge something like an M80.   I am only aware of two noise complaints, one from a resident living in the old City Hall Apartment Building and one apparently from a detainee in the jail whose sleep was disturbed – we discounted the second complaint.  On Monday there were 500 or more crows on top of the Graham ramp and the deck was literally covered with feces.  The crews hit this area hard, and with Mayo’s permission, the USDA hung a crow effigy between the lights on the top level.  Randy Staver and I accompanied the USDA crew on Thursday night and we did not see a single bird on the ramp.

We had a wrap up session today – the Mayor, Council President Staver and Tom Behrens from Mayo  attended.  We reviewed the geographic areas to concentrate on, the equipment to use etc.  The goal is  to break the incoming flocks into small groups spread over a large enough area that they are not creating problems.  The test will be to see what happens as we move forward.  The impact of colder weather and possible snow are unknowns. The USDA will continue their efforts through tonight.  We won’t do anything on Saturday or Sunday. On Monday, unless they are called out for snow plowing, Park and Rec will have an employee who will continue the harassment effort on a 4 p.m. to midnight shift.  Mike Nigbur and I will also be meeting with Tom Behrens next week to discuss coordination of our efforts with Mayo.

We had a few calls from individuals who felt this was a fruitless effort or they were upset about the cost.   We had many more individuals thanking the City and the USDA staff for their work.  I also wanted to acknowledge Kahler.  Jon Eckhoff worked with them  and was able to obtain rooms for the USDA crew at roughly one-half of the going rate – this will allow us to stretch the project budget.

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  Doug

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