Loud booms echoed throughout the Woodlake area in Chesterfield Monday evening. The startling noises are an attempt to give hundreds of birds– the Double-crested Comorant- the boot.
A USDA Wildlife Services team floated out on the Swift Creek Reservoir, shocking the birds with pyrotechnics for the second time this year. The birds are blamed for damaging trees and shrubs, and polluting the water, with their toxic poop. Experts are hoping the loud noise will be enough to disperse the Double-crested Comorants permanently, over to the James River. There, the birds can spread out and likely cause less damage. The pyrotechnic-created noises are not harmful to the birds.
Experts say each adult Double-crested Comorant creates a pound of highly acidic waste each day. At last count, USDA Wildlife Services district supervisor David Allaben says there were nearly 350 Double-crested Comorants spending evenings at Woodlake. That number could rapidly grow if they aren't deterred.
"If we were to leave them there this winter, that island will probably be dead by spring," said Allaben, referring to one of the islands in the reservoir, painted over by white bird droppings.
In September, a trial attempt at scaring away the birds was a success, for the night. However, officials expect it will take numerous rounds of rousing the birds, before they get the hint.
However, this mission has reinforcements. Woodlake resident Orrin Skretvedt is a member of the community's environmental committee, which oversees the reservoir.
"It's a Woodlake landmark. We're really sick to see it deteriorate," said Skretvedt of the lake, which seems to be increasingly sparse.
Skretvedt is blasting out startling sounds from his megaphone.
"It's so loud, they'll probably hear it up on Midlothian Turnpike," he joked.
Skretvedt downloaded an array of different sounds, including a machine gun and the roar of a T-Rex, to help disperse the birds.
The USDA Wildlife Services team will be creating the noise through Wednesday, and possibly Thursday, at dusk. They expect to have to return in coming months, as birds attempt to return.
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