California University takes steps to relocate crows
By Amanda Dolasinski
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Pesky black crows circling around California University of Pennsylvania's campus met their match this week — grape extract.
A wispy fog that was spread around campus contained the extract, which acts like pepper spray and is harmless to plants and other birds.One whiff, and they're off.
“Three winters ago, we had a really severe crow problem,” said Christine Kindl, university spokeswoman. “It's much more controlled this year.”
Crow droppings can spread disease and make sidewalks slick, so it's important for professionals to relocate the birds, Kindl said. “It's the droppings we're concerned about,” she said. “We try to encourage them to go roost elsewhere.”Two pest control professionals roamed the Washington County campus Monday with fogging equipment. The flock, also called a “murder,” got the message and didn't stick around.The pest control crew can use other methods to relocate the birds, including bright lasers and noisemakers.
Crows roost communally in winter months, and experts say they are comfortable in urban areas where there is more light and the buildings generate heat. It will be challenging to move the crows permanently, said Jim Bonner, executive director of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
“Most efforts to relocate things are not successful ... unless they are going to change something physically,” he said. “It's the conditions that they are attracted to.”There's no way to break up large flocks or even remove them from an area completely, he said.
A flock in Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh has reached 20,000.
“There's nothing to solve the problem, just manage it,” Bonner said. “Around the country, you'll hear about these enormous crow roosts. Unless you change something, they're going to come back year after year.”
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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