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City hopes grape extract deters birds

November 18, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

The city of Hagerstown is mounting an offensive attack against an annoying bird population, but not a lethal attack as suggested by one City Council member.

Crews will disrupt the birds' roosts by trimming trees and spraying a grape extract in the air, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Tuesday.

Downtown Hagerstown has been pelted with bird droppings so badly that Department of Public Works crews were power washing sidewalks around Public Square and City Hall this week.

Last week Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein suggested many of the birds be "terminated."

The birds, first assumed to be crows, turned out to be blackbirds and starlings, Zimmerman said.

Public Works Manager Doug Stull said crews will begin trimming pear trees where the birds roost this weekend. The area is between Church and Antietam streets and Summit Avenue/North Jonathan Street and Cramer Alley.

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The birds have been roosting in the pear trees because they like the pears and the warmth provided by tree limbs, Stull said.

The tree trimming is estimated to cost $4,000,

J.C. Ehrlich Co. Inc. is expected to begin spraying the extract next week, Stull said. It may take two or three sprayings at $600 a spraying, he said. The spray is not harmful to people, he said.

Stull said the birds, which historically have littered downtown with droppings every year, are roosting west of Hagerstown.

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