After several years of absence, the crows have returned en force to the grounds surrounding Amsterdam City Hall. Amplified recordings of crow warning calls, played continuously from speakers atop city hall buildings, seemed to fix the problem in the past. However, the method seems to have lost its effect as huge flocks of crows are now roosting again in the woods surrounding city hall, soiling car tops and creating a disgusting mess of droppings in the parking lots.
This time, the city has enlisted the help of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and Wildlife Services (APHIS WS) division of the United States Department of Agriculture. A team has already completed an initial assessment of the problem, estimating that the massive flock could contain at least 10,000 birds.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Alderman Jim Martuscello reported, “[APHIS WS] came in here and they reviewed the problem, and it’s definitely a health problem, it’s a serious health problem.”
Under the $7,371 contract passed by the council, two teams of wildlife biologists and wildlife specialists will employ various non-lethal methods to conduct a four-night “hazing program” to move the crows from one roosting spot to another until they settle outside city limits. Methods listed in the contract include pyrotechnics, avian distress calls, lasers, and spotlights.
City Engineer Michael Clark said he believes the team is experienced and qualified to do the job correctly.
“They’ve done this very thing in the last couple of years, as I understand it, in the City of Troy, City of Albany, [who had] very similar problems,” said Clark. “They’ve also dealt with bird issues on the approaches to Scotia Air National Guard base and the Albany Airport.”
According to the contract, the team is available for additional two-night treatments to reinforce the initial effort and prevent the crows from re-establishing a winter roost within city limits.