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Penn State Turns to Pyrotechnics to Move Crows off Campus

by on January 31, 2014 1:45 PM

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, about 2,000 of them, 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. According to Ruskin, his department has received a lot of complaints about the birds.

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.

Ruskin says, "Crows are very intelligent, but OPP is smarter. We intend to regain control of our campus and remove the sanitation blight that our customers have complained about."

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 to remove bird waste on sidewalks will begin when the weather turns warmer. It can't be done sooner because it would create icy conditions on walkways.

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.

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

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Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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