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City battles birds with spray

November 07, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Trees in downtown Hagerstown will be sprayed five times in the next month in an attempt to chase birds from their winter roosts, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said Wednesday.

The spraying will be done on five separate evenings, from about 8 to 10 p.m. beginning Nov. 7. The other nights will be Nov. 11, 13, 15 and 18.

The grape-scented spray is supposed to make sparrows and starlings leave the trees and also annoy crows, Tissue said.

Before spraying, the city will post no-parking signs in the areas to prevent the spray from landing on vehicles, he said.

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The spraying will be done on trees on public property in Public Square, near the Post Office, the 200 block of Jonathan Street, the first and second block of East Washington Street and the first and second block of Summit Avenue.

The city cannot spray trees on private property, he said.

The spray does not kill the birds. He said the spray sticks to the leaves and then gets on the birds. The birds don't like it and eventually will stop returning to trees that have been sprayed, he said.

The birds are annual cold-weather visitors to downtown, leaving a mess on the sidewalks and in the trees where they flock.

Tissue said the hope is that the spraying will prompt the birds to roost in a place where they will not bother anyone.

"We feel we have an obligation to keep the sidewalks and streets clean," he said.

By starting spraying earlier than last year, the city is hoping to get birds to congregate somewhere else this winter, Tissue said.

Last year, the city sprayed five times starting in mid-December, and that succeeded in getting some birds to roost elsewhere, he said.

The city is paying about $2,000 for the spraying, which will be done by Ehrlich, a pest control company in Hagerstown, Tissue said.

For more information, contact the City Engineering Department at 301-739-8577, ext. 128.

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