A sure-fire crow cure - Kill 'em all

September 28, 2000

A sure-fire crow cure - Kill 'em all

Well, at least Southeast Asia listens to me. Three years ago I offered the city of Hagerstown this free advice for ridding itself of crows:

Shoot them.

Now, the New York Times reports that the island nation of Singapore has adopted this solution for ridding itself of unwanted crows:

Shoot them.

That's right, the city that brought us some humorous moments with its public canings and bans on chewing gum, has enlisted a get tough on crows policy that involves ranks of men with shotguns blasting away into the dusk.

This year, they figure they can kill 20,000 of Singapore's 100,000 crows.

"There is no bloodlust evident among the men, only a solemn respect for their foe's notorious cunning," the New York Times reports. "Social beings, crows will signal others of danger and organize to defend wounded fellows if possible. Marksmen swear the crows recognize guns on sight."


No bloodlust? Well where's the fun in that? Guns without bloodlust is like handball without a wall.

And when did crows become such noble beasts. Solemn respect? Hello, Singapore. We're not talking about a Bengal Tiger here. These are flying vermin, winged rats. Don't treat it as if you're going to be mounting a crow head over your fireplace in the den.

And why is shooting crows, especially here in Hagerstown, more important than ever? Because I happen to have in my hands a press release from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Fearmongering entitled "Maryland Crows Test Positive for West Nile Virus."

Gee. I hope they remembered to strip them of their Olympic golds.

The state is asking our help in finding out more about the scope of the virus:

"Citizens are asked to call and report any dead or dying bird to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' toll free hotline at 1-888-584-3110. Optimum specimens for testing are birds that have died within 24 hours prior to calling the hotline. Sunken or cloudy eyes and infested with fly larvae (maggots) are good indicators that the bird has been dead too long for testing."

Oh come now. Back where I come from in West Virginia, fly larvae is what puts the zip in the potpie.

Now that I've lived in Maryland a while though, I'm not certain I want to get close enough to a crow carcass to determine whether its eyes are sunken, or merely cloudy.

Of course there's one way to guarantee a good fresh crow carcass: Shoot them. Which is where I started out in the first place.

Back to the Singapore model, it's interesting to note that they award the shooting jobs to the city's banking and business elite.

The Times reports: "The sharpshooters arrived, 18 in all, not in rusted pickups with gun racks, but in BMWs and shiny new Japanese sedans. The club secretary, Tang Kee Khong, emerging from a vintage Mercedes, launched the attack."

Well, there you go. We can just fix up the guys over at Ferris, Baker, Watts with some Remingtons and let them go nuts.

There's your tourist attraction, Mayor. Come to Hagerstown and see the men in worsted wool suits marching up Antietam Street blowing away blackbirds.

It would be the next best thing to giving them a public caning.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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