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Penn State Turns to Pyrotechnics to Move Crows off Campus

Expect some fireworks at Penn State Friday night as university workers take on a messy flock of crows.

Crews from the university’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) will be firing off pyrotechnic bangers and screamers in an attempt to nudge the crows off campus. The noisy display will begin around 8:45 p.m.

Paul Ruskin, the public affairs coordinator for OPP, says large flocks of migratory crows have stopped on the Penn State campus this winter. Many of the birds are roosting in trees along Shortlidge Road in the area near South Halls. That is causing what Ruskin describes as unsanitary and unpleasant conditions.

Getting the crows to move on has become a challenge. Ruskin says the crows “have proven to be both smart and stubborn.” In the past, workers have used laser pointers to startle the birds, but they’ve since adapted to that technique.

That’s why the fireworks show is planned. Ruskin calls the noisemakers “very effective.”

The fireworks will be fired by OPP employees who will be wearing blue and green reflective safety vests. According to a news release, the fireworks will not harm the birds.

The noise barrage could continue for a couple of hours nightly. Specific dates and locations will be figured out based on where the crows roost. Pressure washing of sidewalks will begin when the weather turns warmer.

The Office of Physical Plant says it’s partnering with Penn State researchers and the USDA Wildlife Services to relocate the migrating crows. Penn State is also working with borough officials to find solutions to this continuing problem.

Of course, this isn’t the first time OPP has turned to pyrotechnics to scare off the pesky crows. Last year, Ruskin described OPP has a “Laser Recon team.”

“Crows love the safe, warm, and welcoming ambiance of University Park,” Ruskin said. “To a crow’s mind our campus looks a lot like Daytona Beach.”

You can report crow-related issues to Paul Ruskin by calling 814-863-9620.

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