News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 16, 2012

Triggering Action: Crow Patrol fires off seasonal efforts

TERRE HAUTE — Tim Roberts of Terre Haute aimed the small “gun” over his head.

He pulled the trigger and a moment later, BOOM! a loud explosion sent shock waves through air high above the parking lot near City Hall.

Roberts is a first-year volunteer with the Terre Haute Crow Patrol, a group of people dedicated to keeping crow excrement off city streets, parking lots and residents.

“I could see that working in my neighborhood,” Roberts said with a smile after launching his first “banger,” a mandatory exercise for new volunteers. They must learn how to fire the launchers that are designed to “push” crows from populated areas of town.

Crow droppings around the city are “terrible,” said Chris Koszewski, another first-time volunteer with the patrol. He and his wife, Phyllis, have seen the damage done by roosting murders of crows around Terre Haute.

“It irritates me,” Chris said of the crow droppings he has to walk through on his way to various places around town. Phyllis mentioned a doctor’s office in town that cut down trees to keep crows from roosting, and messing, on their parking lot.

“It was pretty sad,” Phyllis said.

About eight volunteers showed up at City Hall for the first night of patrol training. This is the third year for the annual activity, designed to keep tens of thousands of crows from making a mess downtown and elsewhere in the city.

About 75 miles away, Indianapolis launched its crow prevention activities as well on Monday. There, the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services provides a team of five people to keep crows away from Monument Circle and other important venues downtown, said Judy Loven, Wildlife Services state director. A coalition of property owners in Indianapolis pays the USDA to provide the service, she said.

Terre Haute uses volunteers, although the Crow Committee, a not-for-profit organization, pays a reduced fee for the services of Tim, Matt and Bridget Christie of Wildlife Management Services. The Christies train the volunteers and lead the operations nightly until spring. Using volunteers is by far less expensive than hiring USDA teams, Loven said.

The Terre Haute Crow Patrol uses “screamers” — high-pitched aerial rockets – and “bangers” to move the crows from populated areas. It also uses propane cannons and lasers to move the birds without harming them.

UAP Clinic downtown has invested in its own propane cannon to keep the birds off of the clinic’s roof, said Jack Robinson, facilities manager for UAP. The birds have torn holes in the roof and made it difficult for patients and their families to enter the building in the mornings, he said.

Not everyone agrees with what the patrol is doing. Two men attended the training session of the volunteers Monday night and voiced their concern. The crows have a right to fly in the air where they wish, one said before leaving the room.

Anyone wishing to volunteer to help the Crow Patrol should show up at the City Hall parking lot a little before dark. Anyone wishing to report a large concentration of crows can call the Crow Hotline at (812) 244-2709.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

 

You Can Help

• Anyone wishing to volunteer to help the Crow Patrol should show up at the City Hall parking lot a little before dark. Anyone wishing to report a large concentration of crows can call the Crow Hotline at (812) 244-2709.

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