News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 10, 2013

Citizens on crow patrol

Volunteers, city workers band together for effort

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The City of Terre Haute expects only minimal new expenses after taking over the Crow Patrol, a formerly volunteer-directed, not-for-profit group organized to scare off the city’s annual winged visitors.

Annual costs to the city should be between $3,000 and $5,000 for supplies and equipment, said Mayor Duke Bennett. In past years, when the patrol was directed by volunteers, the city contributed $2,000 annually to support the effort.

“It’s worth every penny,” Bennett said of the expense.

Last Monday was the first night for this season’s Crow Patrol effort, now headed by Terre Haute Code Enforcement officers. No overtime will be needed because the officers’ shifts have been moved back a couple of hours to cover the early evening period when the patrol is active, Bennett said.

When it was directed by volunteers, the not-for-profit Terre Haute Crow Patrol had an annual budget of about $20,000, including payments to professional director/ trainers who assisted the effort each night, rain or shine.

Those directors moved out of town, leaving no one to manage the effort. That’s why the city took over this year, Bennett said.

“I sure wish them luck,” said Joy Sacopulos, a founder of the volunteer Crow Patrol and loyal volunteer for the past three years. It’s good the city has taken over the effort, she said.

More than a dozen volunteers showed up for initiation and training in City Hall the first night. A few were volunteers from previous years, and others were brand new to the effort.

Code Enforcement officer Laura Tharp greeted the volunteers and explained what’s involved, including safety tips. Each volunteer signed a waiver and was trained in how to fire the “cap guns,” or “starter pistols,” used to startle the crows.

Each of the first several nights, eight or nine volunteers showed up, Bennett said. “That’s a great start.” But, he added, “We can always use more volunteers.”

The Crow Patrol meets in the City Hall parking lot at 5:30 p.m. each day.

Volunteers are given pyrotechnics and assigned locations. New volunteers are welcome any evening and can be trained on the spot.

The Crow Patrol has been active for the past three winters and has made a big difference.

Downtown, once coated with crow droppings, is now largely free of the mess each winter, except on rare nights when the patrol has been unable to work. Volunteers are needed seven nights a week through March.

“It’s going to be a long winter,” said Jim Luzar of the Purdue Extension office and long-time chairman of the volunteer patrol, who spoke at Monday’s initial meeting.  “It’s going to be a lot of nights.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

Crow Patrol volunteers

• Volunteers can show up in the City Hall parking lot any evening at 5:30. Training will be provided the first evening. You must be 18 to fire the pyrotechnics used to move the birds.

• To report large numbers (in the hundreds) of crows, call 812-244-2709. This information will help the Crow Patrol direct its efforts to areas with the most crows.