WATERTOWN — Months away from the time crows invade the city, Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith is again calling for lethal means to get rid of them.
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During a marathon city budget session on 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.
During a particularly difficult year of crow activity, Mayor Smith last February instructed the city’s crow hazing consultants, Loomacres Wildlife Management, Warnerville, to use deadly force against the crows that roost in trees in and around downtown.
Biologists from Loomacres shot and killed 15 crows during one night of hazing and then returned to kill seven more on another night during the ensuing weeks of the mayor’s orders. The idea is that the crows are scared away by seeing a few dead ones laying on the ground.
The crows seemed to have ignored the killings and returned a few days later to the trees where they were roosting.
And now 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.
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. Loomacres Wildlife Management
In 2016, 20 crows were killed by air rifles.
City officials have been worried about the health risks of the crow droppings.