Skip to comments.Riverton suspends crow crackdown [Huge Crow Invasion]
Posted on 03/17/2006 9:16:01 PM PST by TChris
Crows, often touted as among the most intelligent of birds, may be finally getting the hint that downtown Riverton is no place to roost.
Riverton police have killed thousands of the birds with shotguns in the last several weeks. City officials called a cease-fire after Monday's nightly fusillade after determining that the huge flocks seem to be moving out of the downtown area.
"From what I've seen, it appears to me that crows are staying out of town," Mayor John Vincent said Tuesday. "They appear to be staying down by the river."
That's a good thing. Police Chief John Snell estimated the bird count at "anywhere from 50,000 to a million" -- far too many to count.
"In the afternoons, toward dusk, I don't know that they block out the sun, but you can't look anywhere without seeing them," he said.
Vincent declared a state of emergency last month after huge flocks of the birds took up residence and proceeded to paste the city with their droppings.
"Particularly, they wanted to congregate in the downtown area because there's lighting there," Snell said, adding that droppings in some areas downtown were more than an inch thick -- "I mean solid thick."
City police began shooting the birds out of trees, sometimes getting more than two dozen birds from a single shotgun shell.
Vincent said local residents were almost uniformly supportive of shooting the birds.
"I think that if you could see the damage and destruction that these birds have caused, you would understand what I'm talking about," Vincent said.
"Nobody around here wants to go shoot things just to shoot them," Vincent said. "It's an action we took to try to protect the health of our citizens, and our property."
Since it was first reported in The (Riverton) Ranger newspaper, the shooting program attracted attention from news organizations around the world. Vincent recently appeared on a California radio program along with Kevin McGowan, a professor of ornithology at Cornell University and a recognized expert on crow behavior; a film crew was on its way from Japan to document the situation, Vincent said.
McGowan suggested on the program that Riverton try nonviolent methods to drive off the crows; Vincent said the city had tried, but nothing had worked.
"The only means that we haven't tried that I think may be pretty effective are birds of prey," Vincent said Tuesday. "I think (McGowan's) view of it was that it's just something that we have to live with. I don't think many people here in town hold the same view of it that he does."
According to McGowan, crows roost together in the winter perhaps to communicate information about food, and because they find safety in numbers.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, McGowan said federal officials have had success chasing huge flocks of crows out of towns on the East Coast using combinations of fireworks, lasers and amplified recordings of crow distress calls. And while the crows haven't left Riverton yet, he said they're sure to migrate to other areas in coming weeks.
"The whole reason that we don't just allow people to go out and kill birds is that birds go to other places," McGowan said. "What's happening in Wyoming is you have a concentration of crows from all over."
Crows were added to an international treaty that protects migratory birds in the 1960s, McGowan said. However, plenty of loopholes were left in the treaty allowing them to be killed if they're creating a nuisance.
Although Wyoming's regular hunting season for crows ended last month, Vincent said Riverton got permission from the state Game and Fish Department to continue its shooting program.
Whenever people shoot thousands of crows, McGowan said, "you don't know if you're killing local ones, or wiping out the declining population in Alberta. That's the kind of thing that the laws were put into place to avoid."
While Snell's officers will halt their shooting program for at least the next few days, Snell said the birds haven't left the area. He said he expects city officials will make a decision by this weekend whether to resume shooting.
I have never heard of crows that thick but gackles are a problem in many parts of the country.
More power to common sense solutions!!
In Seattle we had a couple of huge sealions hanging around the entrance to the locks into fresh water Lake Union...eating all the migrating salmon....multiple hundreds a day.
We tried sound machines imitating killer whales, the sealions sworn ememies; we tried M-80 thrown in the water...but never near the sealions; we tried nets....still the sealions - the most famous was "Herschel" - kept eating salmon.
So the wise men trapped them and flew them 900 miles down to the California coast.....they were back in less than 2 weeks.
A side note: I have a friend that used to work on a fish farm in Alaska...sealions used to tear the nets and eat the salmon as they swam out. He said that all you need to do was use a 30.06 on one or two....and the smell of sealion blood in the water would keep them away for a minimum of two months.
I think all black birds are smart; I think all large birds are smart, except domestic turkeys and chickens.
Grackles belong to the same family, corvids: smart, big eaters, ominivores, pesky at times.
I agree. as a seattle native seeing all this herschel BS go on it was agreed your solution was right on the money!
When I read this all I could think of was the Hitchcock movie "The Birds"
You ever go to the Rendevouz, TChris? Some rather interestng characters there. Just sat there and shot muzzleloaders and shot the breeze for a day.
Thanks for the ping!
I guess the crow population is a good sign that the West Nile Virus, problem is going away. Oh, well, now we have Bird Flu to look forward to. Better to get the birds out of town before the flu hits, infect fewer people that way.
Those are the rascals and although I need to check to make sure I think those monsters are also the ones that will sneak their eggs into others birds' nests so that the other birds will end up feeding the new born for them.
They are generally nasty, worthless birds.
"getting more than two dozen birds with a single shotgun shell"
C'mon! More media ignorance about guns. That's some boss shotshell load.
In the Army I used to shoot crows out of treetops with a .45 automatic (they were gathered over our messhall tent) and they still needed finishing off.
Ravens are the smart ones - not crows. Easily confused. Ravens can pick locks, open cabinets, move backpacks to safe areas to open up and raid them at their leisure. Crafty buggers.
"They appear to be staying down by the river."
In a van?
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