Contumacious crows and rambunctious ravens topic of discussion at council

The topic of nuisance birds returned to the Greybull Town Council Monday, after an emergency ordinance aimed at addressing their health safety impact was tabled at their March meeting.

Drafted in light of testimony provided by Garland, Mary and Mike Laird regarding a problematic neighbor, the ordinance sought to prohibit the the intentional “feeding of crows and ravens,” declaring it a public nuisance.

As originally introduced, ordinance 821 declared “any intentional conduct, such as feeding or housing, that attracts the presence of ravens and crows, or any other potentially hazardous or destructive wildlife” a nuisance, prohibiting the act. Violating the ordinance would have resulted in a fine of up to $750 dollars.

The ordinance was tabled at the March meeting in a 1–4 vote, with Mayor Myles Foley serving as the lone vote in favor of the bill. The council vowed to reconsider the topic, making good on that promise Monday.

Speaking during public comment, Greybull resident Michelle Russell testified to the impact crows and ravens have had on her. An asthmatic, Russell was concerned that the mountains of manure would impact her well-being.

“The young and elderly — and people with asthma — get very sick when their [defecate] is concentrated in one spot at all times,” she said.

Russell touched on the problem of predation; according to her, other animals are not as bothersome as they have natural predators around the region. She also touched on the fact that it is much easier to remove a small nuisance animal than it is to deal with an entire flock of birds.

“There is no control of them — raccoons, skunks or any such thing that comes in like that has natural predators,” she said. “We’re [also] able to trap and remove them as we see fit. Crows and ravens you have no control. They come in as flocks – you can’t get rid of them, especially if someone is feeding them and deliberately causing them to flock.”

Councilman Clay Collingwood moved to reintroduce the tabled ordinance as new ordinance 823. While Collingwood was not fully sold on the ordinance as introduced, he conceded that it merits action and revision over the coming weeks.

“Those pictures I saw were ridiculous. I personally don’t think that this is a person who enjoys crows and ravens; I think this is a person who is intentionally trying to affect their neighbor’s lifestyle. I don’t like it, but we can’t ignore it,” he said.

While he recognized the necessity of something to be done, Councilman Scott Mattis was skeptical of the bill, concerned that it would set a dangerous precedent.

“I think it’s a really dangerous precedent to set to try and control a single civil dispute. My property is completely covered with feces and nobody close to me is feeding crows. I certainly do sympathize with the Lairds on their situation, but I don’t think [we should create] an ordinance for a single instance like this,” he said.

Mattis’ skepticism was slightly assuaged after Attorney Kent Richins explained that the ordinance will go through the standard three read process rather than enacted as an emergency ordinance.

Although slightly satiated, Mattis suggested the town look into the underlying issue rather than address the problem at face value.

“I would like to say that we look deeper into the crow problem as a whole in town. We have to do something on that level,” he said.

The bill was approved on first reading with unanimous consent from the council.

The council will meet next on Monday, April 17, at 6:30 p.m. in a special workshop to discuss the budget for next fiscal year.