WATERTOWN — Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith is again calling for lethal means to get rid of the crows that roost in the city.
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During a budget session Saturday, Mayor Smith said it was time for city staff and police officers to be trained to shoot them.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Let’s get rid of them. We have to hit them hard and hit them early,” he told council members.
Mayor Smith would like to see city staff and police officers armed to kill crows because of the droppings that they leave on and around buildings along lower Washington Street. He instructed City Manager Kenneth A. Mix to come up with a plan before the first crow shows up this fall.
“It’s really a big problem,” Councilwoman Sarah Compo said.
People were particularly irritated this past winter by the sheer amount of droppings that the crows left on buildings, sidewalks and cars. It was difficult to maneuver around crow feces that covered sidewalks leading to the Flower Memorial Library, Jefferson County Historical Museum and City Hall, and on a children’s playground outside the Dulles State Office Building, the mayor said.
“It’s disgusting and destructive,” he said.
While agreeing with him on the issue, Councilwoman Lisa Ruggiero warned that the mayor’s comments might be met with opposition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, which responded to the crow shootings this winter.
Kristin Rickman, Emergency Response Division Manager for PETA’s Cruelty Investigations Department, said that shooting the crows would not be a “financial sound decision,” since hazing is a more efficient way of moving them out of communities.
She thinks the mayor is acting out anger when crows are just a part of nature.
In what has become a yearly event, the thousands of crows show up in late October and stick around until sometime in March because they like the warmer temperatures in the city and the ambient light that protects them from their predators. After the season, they stay in fields in the country.
Loomacres just completed the first year of a three-year, $16,238 contract to chase the crows out of downtown and neighborhoods.
City officials have been worried about the health risks of the crow droppings.