TERRE HAUTE —
Crows in Terre Haute are on a power play.
In hockey, a “power play” occurs when one team has more players on the ice than the opposition while one or two of its players sit in the penalty box. A power play can result in as much as a 5-to-3 player advantage.
In this city, the crows’ advantage is often 100,000-to-3. The Detroit Red Wings would be envious. The Terre Haute Crow Patrol, by contrast, needs more players to stop the power play by the archrival Terre Haute Black Wings (a.k.a. the crows).
Since the 1990s, the big, dark, smart birds have turned the city into their winter resort. Ornithologists speculate that the crows come here because of an ideal mix of water (in the Wabash River), food (in farm fields), nighttime light (at parking lots and streets), and heat (from urban pavement and buildings). The crow population fluctuates, but it’s ranged from 40,000 to six digits. For more than 20 years, the city had no coordinated plan of attack. Residents and businesses had to cope however possible. Then, early in 2010, a Crow Committee organized, with support of the Mayor’s Office, and the Crow Patrol was born.
With limited funding for pyrotechnics and lasers, which help scatter the birds, and some assistance from a professional wildlife service, the Crow Patrol relies on volunteer help. Typically, a handful or less, these folks labor in tough circumstances, trying to disrupt the crows’ winter-long routine of foraging west of the Wabash from dawn to dusk, and then flying east back into the city to congregate in warmth and artificial lighting to avoid their predators, owls.
For their morning rounds, between 6 and 7:30 a.m., Crow Patrolers don bright orange vests and drive to key locales to disperse murders of crows with green laser lights, just before the birds leave town at sunrise. (Most of us are sleeping, eating breakfast or getting dressed for work.) Around sundown, between 5:30 and 6:45 p.m., patrol members again drive to crow hotspots and fire pyrotechnic guns to shake the stubborn critters with the sparkling, noisy fireworks. (Most of us are eating dinner.) The patrol functions from October through March through wind, rain, snow, sleet, ice and falling temperatures. (Most of us find indoor activities during those months.)
This is their third winter of trying to outwit, outlast and outplay the crows. The members’ task is frustrating, wet, cold, but also important. Consider that, according to a New York Times report — yes, the nation’s most famous publication came here last winter for a feature story on the patrol — Union Hospital spent more than $100,000 two years earlier to clean up crow droppings. Since its formation, the Crow Patrol has made the hospital, Indiana State University, the downtown district and other heavily populated areas a priority.
When the project began, organizers hoped the teams of 20-plus volunteers would assemble daily. In reality, the number varies between two and five, according to Joy Sacopulos, a patrol mainstay and a co-founder of the Crow Committee. As a result, a couple of patrolers must focus on clearing a few popular crow hangouts, rather than a broader, sustained, systematic strategy to disturb the birds and persuade them to pick another town.
The Crow Patrol provides a valuable service. It helps prevent poop-splotched sidewalks, storefronts and cars, broken tree limbs (from roosting crows), and sleepless nights (from their endless “caws”). The diligent patrol members deserve praise and, most of all, assistance.
How can you pitch in? Volunteer by calling the Crow Hotline at 812-244-2709 or 812-234-2718. Better yet, show up at the parking lot on City Hall’s north side any evening at 5:30. The crows leave each March, so the season has reached its fourth period. Help the patrol finish at full strength and clean the city like a Zamboni.
Small group making an impact for city
TERRE HAUTE —
Crows in Terre Haute are on a power play.
Editorial: What do Sony cutbacks mean?
It is easy to understand why shivers run down local people’s spines whenever rumors hit the streets about Sony DADC’s plant on Terre Haute’s east side. With more than 1,400 people currently employed in Sony’s production and distribution facilities, the community has grown somewhat dependent on the economic stability Sony provides.
- Readers’ Forum: March 7, 2014
RONN MOTT: Knicks
The big noise in the NBA is whether Carmelo Anthony will stay with the New York Knicks or go elsewhere.
If my memory serves, and it doesn’t always, Carmelo left the Denver Nuggets, the team that drafted him, to play in the bright lights of the Big Apple. It was loudly proclaimed at the time that Carmelo wanted to play for a championship team. The Knicks’ ownership bought a bunch of players and spent a whole bunch of money to aid Carmelo in helping the Knicks to get to a championship.
EDITORIAL: More ill will against gays
If you’re a feral cat wandering freely through a trailer park in Indiana, the General Assembly has taken action to make your life better.
Readers’ Forum: March 6, 2014
Utilities do need tighter regulation
Great work by TV sports staff
Editorial: A good place for persistence
The topic of Gov. Mike Pence’s effectiveness as the state’s top governmental leader during this year’s General Assembly will be hashed and rehashed after the session closes down in the next couple of weeks. At best, the first-term governor will get mixed marks.
- Readers’ Forum: March 5, 2014
RONN MOTT: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington
I remember when by edict the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were lumped into a single celebration called “Presidents Day.” I thought it was stupid then, and I still do.
LIZ CIANCONE: Antiques show better than any modern programs
I’m not a big fan of television.
Readers’ Forum: March 4, 2014
Lunatic ravings of the far right
Let IRS take the bullying pledge
EDITORIAL: New attention on sex assaults
Youth sexual assault in Indiana is a troubling issue that has not received the attention it deserves.
KELLY HAWES: It’s time to take politics out of redistricting
A bill to form a bipartisan redistricting commission apparently died in the Indiana Senate last week.
Readers’ Forum: March 3, 2014
Social workers honor profession
FLASHPOINT: Restoring trust, respect in schools rests in fundamentals
A recent Harris poll of 2,250 adults reveals a troubling educational trend.
EDITORIAL: Voters don’t have to stand for entrenched partisanship
Realistic Hoosiers understand members of Congress will typically follow their political party line.
MARK BENNETT: People spaces
Demolition machinery chipped away at the buildings on the 500 block of Wabash Avenue. I stood and watched awhile, last week. By July 2015, a new $18.7-million structure will replace those relics.
THOMAS L. STEIGER: Creativity requires freedom from the risks of failure
Last week I wrote about the themes that emerged from the panel discussion by five Wabash Valley members of the “creative class.”
Flashpoint: Everyone would benefit from responsibly expanding health coverage for Hoosiers
A medical epidemic is one of the worst scenarios a hospital can face — when a significant portion of the population is suddenly struck with a life-threatening illness.
Readers’ Forum: March 2, 2014
Candle still burns at St. Ann’s Clinic
Thanks to all at Sarah Scott
How should we define marriage?
An argument of science and law
Chance to expand your knowledge
Excellent service from paper carrier
Central time zone makes more sense
Summer adult baseball league for all ages
Recognizing that all people matter
More selfish opposition to Common Core
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
Cheers, Jeers and Tears
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
RONN MOTT: Independent thinking in a rapidly changing world
I am a rather independent person. Oh, I don’t belong to any radical, political organization.
Editorial: Toward a better Lifeline Law
In a perfect world, no college or high school student under 21 would drink alcohol, especially to excess. No student would be sexually assaulted. And no student would experience a drug overdose. There is no perfect world.
- Readers’ Forum: Feb. 28, 2014
RONN MOTT: Ukraine
It’s quiet in Ukraine as I write this but, trust me, it won’t be quiet very long.
EDITORIAL: More welcome news for downtown
An average game of dominoes lasts about a half-hour.
READERS' FORUM: Feb. 27, 2014
• Unfair criticism of electric utility
Editorial: A display of confidence
Successful organizations and institutions have stable and effective leadership at the top. Those who don’t suffer the consequences. So it’s no surprise that Indiana State University’s board of trustees is offering a three-year contract extension to President Dan Bradley to run through mid 2019.
- Readers' Forum: Feb. 26, 2014
RONN MOTT: The Olympics
In the medal count in the Olympics, we ended in second place. In times past, without infusion of money, training, etc., second place might have been OK. For this sports-crazy nation, it is not OK.
LIZ CIANCONE: Preference wins over etiquette every time
It’s a source of amusement to me when I read about the trivia which concerns some folks.
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