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Amsterdam to consult with USDA about dispersing crows

Amsterdam to consult with USDA about dispersing crows

Amsterdam is calling in the feds to help deal with a large number of crows roosting in the city.

Amsterdam is calling in the feds to help deal with a large number of crows roosting in the city.

First Ward Alderman Joseph Isabel on Tuesday said he met with a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division and the agency intends to study the situation and suggest options.

“They can disperse them,” said Isabel, who became upset last month after the hood of his car got covered with crow droppings.

USDA Wildlife Services doesn’t focus on a single approach to get rid of crows because the birds are smart and they get used to methods and then ignore them.

Options include using pyrotechnics, lasers and sound, he said.

Fourth Ward Alderman William Wills said he wants the city to issue a temporary order asking residents not to feed birds unless using a bird feeder, to avoid encouragement of crows.

Mayor Ann Thane is advocating a change in the way garbage is collected. The crows apparently know the city’s garbage schedule and can be found in large numbers on garbage day. Thane wants to explore using bags that the birds can’t see through.

According to a packet of information Isabel received from the USDA’s Wildlife Services, there are two primary methods of dispersing birds. One is modifying the environment to make an area unpleasant. The other is frightening the birds away.

Several activities are employed to change the habitat, including thinning out vegetation to eliminate protective cover and pruning trees to make them less attractive for roosting. Many trees can handle having one third of their limbs cut.

Modifying the habitat is believed to have a “more lasting effect” than other methods, and it costs less, according to the USDA.

A variety of devices are used to frighten the birds away, including broadcasting a crow distress call.

Pyrotechnics considered useful include “shell crackers” that are fired from a 12-gauge shotgun. They explode in the air and frighten the birds away, as do firecrackers.

Another tool identified in the USDA documents is an “Automatic LP gas exploder,” which in the diagram looks like a salamander heater hooked to a propane gas tank. The device makes a loud sound that frightens the birds away and it can be controlled by a timer and left unattended.

Isabel said it’s possible the city could hear a report from the USDA during its meeting next month.

The plan is for the wildlife biologists to study the birds’ migration patterns and then present the city with a plan, he said.

Whatever work is decided upon would have to continue each year in order to be effective, Isabel said.

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