Sacramento using trained hawk to curb crow problem

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Every evening, like clockwork, thousands of crows desecend on downtown Sacramento.

Recent rains have cleaned city sidewalks, but they can be caked with crow droppings. It's not just a nuisance. Bacteria and fungi make it a serious health hazard.

Those who live and work in the K Street corridor know all about the bird poop problem. They said so far, it’s been a losing proposition.

“There’s a lot of poop down here but it’s natural. If you move down here, that’s the way it is. It’s been this way for years,” said resident Michael Hermosillo.

But the Downtown Sacramento Partnership is tired of paying cleanup crews to fight a never-ending battle.

Enter Adam Baz, with Integrated Avian Solutions, and his Harris’s hawk, Jasper.

“We look for congregations of crows where they’re not supposed to be and we release the hawk,” Baz said. “They are very experienced at chasing crows and returning to us.”

Not only is Baz a falconer but he’s also an ornithologist who greatly respects crows.

But where they are incompatible with a large number of people, Baz helps relocate them to parks or open spaces by using natural incentives.

“The threat posed by a natural, dynamic, free-flying predator is incredibly compelling and potent and that effect does not wear off,” Baz said.

On Thursday, thousands of crows flocked into the trees above the Downtown Sacramento Skating Rink at dusk. Seconds after Baz released Jasper, thousands of crows flew the coop.

Jasper is trained strictly to chase and not kill. And crows are smart and learn fast.

”By the end of the night, I mean, we’re encountering anywhere between zero and a dozen crows,” Baz explained.

Jasper will be patrolling the downtown area for the next several weeks.

Small pets and children are not at risk. Jasper is known as “the friendly hawk.”