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City of Charlottetown once again dealing with crow issue in downtown area

The City of Charlottetown has compiled a report that centres on how to deal with the overabundance of crows in the downtown.
The City of Charlottetown has compiled a report that centres on how to deal with the overabundance of crows in the downtown. - Terrence McEachern
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The City of Charlottetown is once again taking a look at what it can do to address the population of crows in the downtown.

Coun. Terry MacLeod, chairman of the environment and sustainability committee, said he’s been fielding calls from councillors concerned that the birds are making a nuisance of themselves.

Ward 4 Coun. Mitchell Tweel is one of them. He brought the issue up at the last public meeting of council, saying that there is now an “overabundance’’ of crows, that the issue has been more intensified and that it has become a serious health issue.

So, MacLeod asked Beth Hoar, the city’s parkland conservationist, and Ramona Doyle, the city’s sustainability officer, to put together a report on what the city has done in the past to address the crow issue, what other jurisdictions do and what could be done.

“It’s one of those things where they have a right to be here as much as we do, and we just can’t seem to move them,’’ MacLeod said. “They just get used to (different things we try). There will be an official report go to council and council will choose whether to go forward.’’

Hoar said there is no hard data to suggest there are more crows in the downtown, but there is some evidence to suggest there are.

“Anecdotally, we’ve been hearing from people who don’t normally have them, so they seem to be moving around a little bit. Yes, we’ve gotten a few calls,’’ Hoar said. “They do really prefer the Brighton edges of the Victoria Park area, and it’s kind of a myth that everyone thinks they’re in Victoria Park.’’

"We basically chased the crows around the city which made people unhappy.’’
Beth Hoar, Charlottetown parkland conservationist

Crows have been hanging out in the trees in the Brighton/Victoria Park area since the 1800s, Hoar said.

Hoar has been having countless conversations with biologists, other municipalities and P.E.I.’s falconry official to find out what can be done about the crows.

Charlottetown has tried measures in the past. It used wailers, electronic noise makers that emit a sound that makes crows uncomfortable, as a pilot project in 2009-10.

“We loaned them to some residents at their request. We basically chased the crows around the city which made people unhappy.’’

The wailers were loaned out a few more times since the pilot project but not since 2015.

Municipalities such as Kentville, N.S., and Chatham, N.B., have also used the wailers. The devices have been used on a mobile truck which moves through the community. Problem is, the crows tend to return moments after the truck goes by.

“Chatham has been doing this since the 1980s, and they spend a significant budget annually and a lot of human resources to try and move the crows. They also (use) a loud gun noise, a whole variety of things.’’

In the end, Hoar said not one measure has proven to be a long-term success.

The report was expected to come to council for a vote at the regular public meeting, which was held Monday night.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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