When winter creeps into Rochester, Minn., it’s time. Time for thousands of crows.
In mid-November they descend en masse on the city’s downtown (and Mayo Clinic campus) splashing souvenirs of their presence on sidewalks, vehicles, streets and buildings. In other words, crow poop.
Fighting the problem created by this murder of crows (as such clusters of the birds are called) has become a $40,000 line item in the city’s budget. Rochester along with other cities use nonlethal means to fend off the winged invaders, including a special crew known as the “crow patrol,” according to a recent story on NPR.
While congregating crows are a problem in other cities, Rochester’s main reason for trying to discourage the birds is the Mayo campus, crow patrol member Sally Vehrenkamp told NPR. “It’s very disgusting for them to walk in,” she said, referring to the patients who come to Mayo for treatment from around the world.
The crew tries “to keep the downtown area free of the mess that they create,” Michael Schaber, park operations manager for the city, told Outliers via email. Schaber said they “utilize crow distress calls, blank pistols, high-powered lasers and lights, airsoft guns and any other method that may keep the crows from roosting in the downtown area.”
Schaber said that because Mayo Clinic is a private institution, it handles the foul fowls on its property.
“To keep the number of crows at bay around our campus, Mayo Clinic does use motion-activated ultrasonic devices to discourage crows from roosting in the trees in high-traffic areas,” Mayo Clinic said in an email.