Crows will again be shot this year in an effort to keep them from roosting throughout Storm Lake. The city council gave the Storm Lake Police Department authorization to shoot the birds earlier this week.
The police department will destroy nuisance crows, which is a continuation of a program started last year, according to Public Safety Director Mark Prosser.
Over the last several years the police department has tried distraction devices, water, audio tapes and bird carcasses to scare off birds, all of which have had little effect, Prosser said. The city street and fire departments have assisted in those efforts.
Capt. Bob Swanson, the police department's "resident crow expert," says the most effective way to get rid of the crows is by destroying them.
Shooting birds is cheaper than using other methods, Prosser said. Last year the department used a distraction device known as a "bird bomb." It would create a loud noise to scatter the crows, but the birds would regather shortly after the device was used. Those efforts cost the city $1,058, Prosser said.
However, between Sept. 19, 2000, and March 30, 2001, the police department destroyed 564 birds, Prosser said, at a cost of $181.
While shooting crows has not solved the problem, it has thinned the numbers that gather and has made some less apt to enter residential and business areas, Prosser said.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has granted permission to the SLPD to destroy birds within city limits.
Health concerns are also a problem, as several states, including Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan have confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in crows there, Prosser said.
"There's ongoing concern that problem could perpetuate," he said.
Birds that are killed are disposed of. As of right now none are tested for West Nile, but Prosser said if crows begin turning up dead for no apparent reason the city will send them out for testing.
Citizens wishing to report problems from groups of crows can call 712-732-8010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Other public calls to police will still take precedence over crows.
In other news:
* The city council gave final approval of an ordinance to establish a combined utility deposit for rental units.
City Clerk Patti Moore said the ordinance is needed because the city is losing revenue when people move away without notice or a forwarding address.
The proposed utility deposit would be $65, which is based on the average three-month water/sewer/landfill bill in 2000, Moore said. The deposit could be adjusted annually. The deposit would be refunded after 24 months of continued payment.
The deposit would only apply to rental customers who have had their water turned off for non-payment.
* The council passed the second reading of an ordinance that changes city council meeting times from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. The change was made to better fit the schedule of council members who work out of town, and to set a meeting time that could allow more citizens to attend.
* The council approved a request from Buena Vista University to host a block party for the BVU community on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 1-6 p.m.
Some of the activities include a DJ, face painting, an obstacle course, hop scotch, and an outdoor movie following activities at 6 p.m.
Along with a noise variance, the council also granted the request to close Grand Avenue between West 4th Street and Peterson Drive.
* City Administrator John Call said the city's aquatic center committee will submit its findings to the council after its next meeting, which should be within a month. The council will then study the matter before taking action.