Police officers criticized for killing crows

12:00 PM, Feb 4, 2014   |    comments
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CALDWELL, Idaho (KTVB) -- Twelve dead crows have been found scattered around a Walmart parking lot in Caldwell, Idaho and an animal rights group says it isn't right, especially since Caldwell Police are the ones firing the shots.

"My concern is killing them when other means could be used," said Toni Hicks, Director of Animals in Distress.

Hicks is a wildlife rehabilitator, licensed by the state of Idaho since 1987, and argues that there's got to be a better, safer way to get rid of the annoying crows.

"I really don't feel they need to shoot them," said Hicks. "There's other ways of dealing with nuisance animals."

Caldwell Chief of Police Chris Allgood says crows have been a problem in Caldwell since 2005, when the city council passed an ordinance allowing police to shoot and kill the birds.

"It was such a problem back then. At that point, the crows were downtown," said Allgood.

The crows have since migrated to the Walmart area along Cleveland Boulevard in Caldwell. KTVB went there and found crow droppings all over the parking lot, including droppings coating light posts and a nearby gas station awning.

"They just coat everything out there. It's terrible out there," said Allgood.

However, Caldwell police has recently come under fire for leaving some of the dead crows behind, and members of Animals in Distress took pictures last week.

"They could throw nets over trees which would keep the crows from roosting there," said Hicks. "I'm sure it wouldn't take too long to drive them away. Then they wouldn't have to shoot them and people wouldn't have to see their bodies all over the ground."

KTVB found a dead crow hanging in a tree Monday, but Allgood says that's not common practice.

"We're very good about picking them up," said Allgood. "I don't know how that happened. It was an anomaly because we do pick them up and we do check back to make sure there's none lying around," said Allgood.

Caldwell Police tried just about everything to get rid of the birds, from firecrackers to laser lights. Allgood says shooting them seems to work best.

"We've got a lot of other police things to do," said Allgood. "Chasing crows is not something that's high on our list, but it is a real problem for the businesses and we do want to help them out."

Allgood says the public is not in danger. He says trained officers shoot the crows late at night, using real light loads and shooting upwards. Caldwell Police plan to continue this method as long as the crows are a nuisance.

Idaho Fish and Game officer Charlie Justice says Caldwell Police has the backing of the federal government, and says federal regulations allow police to shoot crows as long as they are proven to be a nuisance and non-lethal means are used first.

Idaho Fish and Game gave Caldwell Police special permission to shoot crows at night and outside crow hunting season, which runs October 1 to January 31.

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