Kansas town takes on spring egrets
HUTCHINSON, Kan. ” Egrets are beautiful to behold with their snowy-white feathers and long, curving necks, but that doesn’t count for much when thousands of them settle in Hutchinson each spring with noise, odors and other nuisances.
However, the migratory birds are protected by federal law so efforts to coexist with them require some imagination.
Police Chief Dick Heitschmidt and Lt. Troy Hoover have been on “egret patrol” in recent days, tying shiny ribbons to trees, placing owl decoys in places where the birds roost and occasionally firing flares to scare the birds away. They also plan to deploy floating balloons.
“The chief and I really dressed the place up,” Hoover said of one neighborhood. “Last year, they just destroyed that area.”
It’s challenging work. After clearing the egrets from one area Monday night, the officers found them roosting in another part of the city, and by the next morning the birds had moved on to still another neighborhood.
Sometimes, the tide turns and residents end up helping the birds. During a heat wave last summer, many young egrets were killed when they wandered onto busy streets in search of water, so the city put up fences to keep them out of traffic and residents put out children’s wading pools full of water.