Monday, February 06, 2006

Crow conundrum

A comment to this post referred to a recent situation in Lancaster County, Pa., in which USDA Wildlife Service employees spread dog food laced with poison near roost sites that host tens of thousands of American Crows every night.

The purpose of the poisoning is not to kill large numbers of crows, which total an estimated 50,000 this winter, said Chris Crosson of the federal Wildlife Services agency hired to drive the crows from local businesses and neighborhoods.

Rather it is hoped that when crows see fellow crows dying, they will abandon the roosts as being unsafe.

The hope is the birds then will take up new roosts in rural areas or places where their presence is tolerated.“We hope to negatively condition the remaining birds by having birds that eat the toxicant die on the roost site,” Crosson said. “That’s also why we use effigies.”

Crosson said the practice in recent days of hanging dead crows from trees at roost sites as well as the playing of recordings of dying crows has had some success in scattering flocks. But not enough.

Wednesday afternoon, Wildlife Services biologists and aides scattered dog food laced with the highly controlled avicide DRC-1339 at three different locations where the crows have recently been gathering prior to flying to roosting sites. They are required to observe the bait sites to make sure no other animals or humans come in contact with the poison, then sweep it up after the crows have eaten.

The commenter asked for my opinion. I'll instead defer to the wisdom of Scott Shalaway, who wrote about solutions to wildlife problems.


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