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Crows are invading Watertown again

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Duck and watch where you’re stepping.

It’s that time of the year when the pesky crow population makes its return to Watertown. And it has — with a vengeance.

As many as 30,000 crows make their roost in the city when the weather gets cold, and they typically stay until late February.

David T. Coleman, caretaker of the Jefferson County Historical Society museum, said the crows are coming earlier and staying later.

“Well, this is an epidemic with 30,000 of them in the city,” he said.

They certainly leave their mark.

On Tuesday morning, a museum maintenance worker spent several hours hosing down the sidewalks covered with crow droppings. The roof of the carriage house and the museum also are coated with the white or purplish markings.

City officials said they hope to tackle the problem by bringing back Loomacres Wildlife Management, Warnerville, to fend the crows off. Wildlife biologists from the company again will handle the city’s crow hazing program.

On Monday night, the Watertown City Council will be asked to approve a $4,740 contract with Loomacres. Under the agreement, biologists would be in Watertown for 150 man hours to get the troublesome black birds out of the city.

“Basically, they’ll be doing about pretty much the same thing as last year,” city planner Andrew T. Nichols said.

They held three crow-hazing sessions last season, starting at dusk and lasting throughout the night. Before they begin the hazing, biologists plan to survey the population and study its roosting patterns, he said.

Last season, they used special remote-controlled aircraft, played distress calls, fired low-yield pyrotechnics and used hand-held lasers to accomplish their task.

This year, they also intend to add “crow effigies and paintball markers to their arsenal,” Mr. Nichols said, admitting that he did not know what those strategies entail.

But Mr. Coleman insisted Loomacres should resort to using high-powered air rifles to kill the crows. He felt so strongly about the issue that he contacted Loomacres officials about it.

He also expressed concerns about the health hazards of having crow droppings all over the city.

“You should use hazmat suits,” he said, adding that his crew is offered gloves and masks.

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