LIKE tourists, crows are flocking to George Town, Penang.
The city has a bigger crow population than other areas on the island because of more human activities and its unfortunate proximity to the Jelutong dumping ground, according to Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) Public Health Committee alternate chairman Ong Ah Teong.
He said even though the dumping ground was no longer used for domestic waste, the crow colony there was “still flourishing”.
“Crows prefer to live in coastal areas.
“However, increased development and the changing landscape of coastal areas especially along this stretch of the island has forced the crows to move inland and nearer to human dwellings.
“The crows, which have become more domestic and accustomed to human activities, are braver and smarter now.
“Generally, the crow population on the island has dropped from some 100,000 a decade ago to fewer than 20,000 today although Macalister Road and the Esplanade are still problematic,” he said.
He said the council had applied for special police permits to shoot the birds in Macalister Road but the application was rejected as it was a residential area.
“These scavenger birds which used to nest only between May and July now lay their eggs all year round.
“As Macalister Road is lined with trees and hawker centres where food are aplenty, the birds like to nest there,” he said.
He said the council workers found it difficult to destroy the nests as the crows were now building them higher up the trees where bamboo poles (used to destroy the nests) cannot reach.
Installing spotlights and trimming the trees are among the measures Ong has recommended to the relevant council departments to discourage crow breeding.
He said that “multi-pronged” measures had been taken to further reduce the island’s crow popula-tion.
Crows have roaming habits, making them difficult to capture.
“We’ve installed 39 traps with some costing up to RM1,500 each around the island to eradicate the menace,” he said.
He added that Batu Lanchang had the most number of traps.
Almost 100 crows on average are trapped by the council per month.Poison baits are also used.
He said operations to hunt down crows on the island were ongoing. He added that so far, some 1,800 birds had been shot.
“Since 1998, shooting of crows have been conducted annually from July to December in several locations such as Batu Lanchang, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and the surrounding coastal areas.
“Ultimately, cleanliness and hygiene are crucial to keep the island free of pests like crows and rodents,” he said.
On Dec 30, a reader Ray Ooi had lamented that the state was among the dirtiest in the country.
With the many crows welcoming you to the state, you can aptly call Penang the ‘Land of the Crows’,” he said.
“They are everywhere and some of them are as huge as chickens.
“This problem can be very irritating and unhygienic since crows are dirty pests and feed on leftovers and even rats,” he said.
He also called on the authorities to address the dog poo problem and the nuisance caused by stray dogs and cats around the city.