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The Madera Tribune

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County to broaden bird battle

January 19, 2019

While downtown merchants battle crows with falcons, Madera County may erect defenses against both pigeons and crows at the government center and parking garage.


Earlier this month, county supervisors directed staff to research monthly and overall costs of hiring Eagle Shield Pest Control to install bird spikes, stealthy netting, bird wire, and other deterrents as well as pigeon trapping. The county currently spends about $100,000 annually cleaning up pigeon droppings and nests on the government center.


Most supervisors expressed concerns about the aesthetics, cost, and effectiveness of relying on initial trapping and long-term physical deterrents. The company’s initial proposal would have cost $279,000 and included a 10-year warranty for the netting and a 15-year warranty for the spikes. All supervisors were supportive of current falcon efforts.


“There’s no question in my mind that falconry works,” responded Brad Kendrick with Eagle Shield in Fresno to supervisors Jan. 8. “It’s a very good tool for bird control. But we’re trying to give you something long-term.” He argued that the birds had to be trapped and their access to government center ledges eliminated.


For now, however, falcons remain the primary tactic for the county — and others — against nuisance birds.


This winter, the Madera Downtown Association, and the county and city of Madera agreed to chip in $10,000 each for the services of Integrated Avian Solutions, which uses trained falcons to peacefully disperse and discourage crow roosts.


The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects crows from pursuit, hunting, and killing, but allows some exceptions, such as falconry.


A pilot falconry effort began locally Dec. 3.


“I’m sure you know there were thousands of crows mounting every horizontal ledge of this (county government center) building, generating an impressive amount of poop … We struggled for a few weeks,” said falconer Adam Bros of IAS. “Then the crows got the message that the hawk is here to stay.”


A falconer guided a falcon to roosts in downtown about three or four nights a week initially. Later visits tapered to about two nights a week and crows virtually disappeared from their former haunts in the targeted area, said Bros.


“This year was kind of a rushed program to get this thing going and implemented before the beginning of the crow season,” said Steve Copland, who spoke to county supervisors Jan. 8 on behalf of the association. “I’m hopeful that next year the MDA will take the lead and we can start this project a little earlier and perhaps get other stakeholders as far as private businesses to come in on this.”


The association plans to bring in falconers and falcons annually “to keep pushing these crows out,” he said. According to Integrated Avian Solutions, the repeated presence of a bird of prey conditions crows to avoid an area. But, Copland noted, “next spring they’ll have hatchlings and new birds.”


Visit https://eagleshieldpc.com for information on Eagle Shield Pest Control. Visit www.avian-solutions.com for details on Integrated Avian Solutions. For videos of county supervisor meetings, visit https://bit.ly/2sv1pDi

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