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December 31, 2012

Fake fowl solve city's crow infestation

PERU, Ind. — Hundreds of crows have harassed this small city in northern Indiana for the past two years, with daily infestations that leave a building, sidewalk and patch of city property covered in droppings. Finally, the city's mayor says he may have a solution: Hanging four fake crows upside down from nearby trees.

“I thought this was either going to be folly or this would be fantastic,” said Mayor Jim Walker, who found the idea online while researching ways to keep away the crows with Brenda Douglass, his administrative assistant.

The 5:30 p.m. appearance of the crows on land next to the old firehouse on Main Street has become more than a spooky ritual here. The infestation is killing pine trees on the property.

A mother has stopped letting her child play outside, said Walker, and congregants at the First Christian Church are worried about being pelted by falling feces.

The church, which bought the old firehouse from the city in 2004, installed a "squawk box" last year to simulate the calls of predatory birds in hopes of shooing away the pests. No luck.

After Walker and Douglass read about dangling decoys online, the city bought four artificial crows for $60 from an online Halloween store. City workers strung them in the trees Dec. 17.

That evening, Walker sat across from the church and watched as a cloud of crows descended.

The birds circled the trees and made a few tentative landings, he said. Then they flew away.

As of late last week, they had not returned.

Walker said he's cautiously optimistic.

"Am I guaranteeing this will work forever? No way," he said. "But it's doing the trick for now, and we haven't seen crows in 10 days."

---

Details for this story were reported by the Kokomo, Ind., Tribune.

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