Silicon Valley city counting on lasers and a boombox to scare away crows as other methods fail

Business Insider US
Stan Tekiela.
Stan Tekiela.
  • Sunnyvale, California plans to use lasers to scare away crows that have been hanging out in its downtown.
  • The city has tried other dispersal strategies in the past, all of which failed.
  • City officials and residents said crow droppings have become a nuisance for local businesses.
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Sunnyvale, California plans to use lasers to scare off crows that have been congregating in the city's downtown shopping and dining area, defecating on the streets, multiple outlets reported.

The city is experimenting with giving $20 lasers to Sunnyvale employees and local restaurants to point up at the crows in the hope that it will scare them away. City staffers will also use a boombox to play sounds of crows in distress as an additional deterrent, The New York Times reported

"We tried multiple things in the past," Sunnyvale's Mayor Larry Klein told ABC 7 News. "We've had falcons. We've put reflectors in our trees, and nothing seems to help."

Using lasers as a tool to disperse birds can be an effective tactic for driving away certain species, according to a 2016 US Department of Agriculture report.

But the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the Audubon Society has pushed back against the practice, telling NBC Bay Area News that it believed the use of lasers could harm the birds' vision.

Whether the city's laser strategy will prove effective at keeping crows away from its downtown long term is unknown, as previous attempts to "haze" crows in other cities have required repeating the practice regularly.

In the short term, residents of Sunnyvale are coming up with their own solutions to avoid getting defecated on. One resident told ABC 7 News that they use an umbrella to avoid getting hit with bird droppings, for example.

Home to the offices of some of Silicon Valley's biggest companies, including LinkedIn, Google, and Apple, Sunnyvale has a population of around 155,000 residents.

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