A California town was overtaken by birds. Lasers can be the solution to end it

Mayor Larry Klein told CNN crows have settled downtown for generations, but numbers have increased during the pandemic. The birds have become a problem for restaurants and other businesses, as well as a noise nuisance for residential areas.

When it comes to al fresco dining, “I go in unless I’m under an umbrella,” resident Frank Hampton told CNN affiliate KGO-TV. “The thing is, they’re not here during the day, only at night. It’s only if they start cumming when the sun goes down.”

The city tried everything to get the birds to find a new place, but all successes were short-lived.

“We used to have a falcon, a falcon, but it’s had limited success and the crows are returning,” Klein said.

Reflectors were also a mistake as crows are more likely to congregate at night. Now the city is switching to laser pointers.

“The long-term cost of bringing in a falconer is quite high, and here we’re mostly talking about a $20 solution and some staff time to have a pilot program to try to solve the problem,” Klein explained.

“It’s a health issue that we’ve had to deal with, and at the city’s expense. So if we have a cheap solution, there’s no reason to try it, is there?” said Klein.

The mayor got the idea from a friend who used a green laser to scatter birds screeching in his yard. He learned that other cities with bird problems were using the same technique because it was deemed safe by the Humane Society of the United States.

The program starts at the end of the month. City employees and residents are armed with the lasers in hopes of success.

“If the green lasers don’t work on their own, we start looking at the sound of crows in distress or other opportunities that come up, but this is the first step in dealing with the birds,” Klein said.

However, not everyone is a fan of trying the technique. The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society told Klein they feared the lasers would blind the birds and cause harm to people and planes. They want the city to explore other options.


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