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Dealing with Nuisance Species

Environmental Biologist Guy Baldassarre talks about nuisance and invasive species

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Even if you're a nature lover, if 'they' get too close, or multiply in numbers, it can be uncomfortable. But there are coping strategies. We're talking gulls, geese, crows, pigeons--all are comfortable close to humans and can become nuisance species. "A lot of people say kill 'em all" says SUNY ESF Environmental Biologist Guy Baldassarre. "But that doesn't work."

What does work, is a variety of strategies. Birds look for food and habitat. "Your point of attack," says Baldassarre, "is to tell them that this isn't the place for you."

Case in point: The North Syracuse School District offices have installed a very loud alarm, that sounds like a bird being attacked. It goes off every 15 seconds. Gulls that used to congregate on the lawn and in the parking lot, no longer dirty the cars parked there.

Gulls like large flat places that look like beaches, which is why they also like parking lots and the flat roofs of buildings. "You are better off looking at your roof and see what is attractive to birds, and work with that," says Baldassarre.

Geese are also an issue considering the amount of poop they put out. A bit of strategy works here, as well. Baldassarre says he's seen many lawns mowed flat, right to the edge of water---which he calls an invitation. Instead, he suggests leaving a strip of high grass, which the geese won't try to push through, coming out of the water.

The strategies work best before birds settle in for the season, with the 'this isn't a good place for you' approach. And, birds are adaptable - that's why they're crowding in on us in the first place. To help look at other approaches, check the DEC website and click on 'Nuisance and Invasive Species' - or call SUNY ESF or any nearby higher education institution that has wildlife biologists, for advice.