Starting this week the City of Rochester will pay wildlife biologists nearly $8,000 to try to scare off thousands of crows that roost downtown this time of year. Even though the annual effort employs pyrotechnics, spotlights, lasers and amplified recordings of crow distress calls to try to get the birds to move, a team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program claims that the crows will not be harmed during this effort.
How do they know this?
The last time I checked these biologists from the Department of Agriculture are not crows. Setting aside the philosophical problem of knowing other minds, basic commonsense tells us that using pyrotechnics and distress calls can cause some degree of harm. The people using these methods have no idea what harm they are actually causing animals that operate on different frequency levels. And is it possible that some of these crows may have heart conditions, irregular breathing, or even emotional illness? It cannot be health inducing to shed a frightening spotlight in their eyes or stupefy them with fireworks. The whole point of using these particular methods is to inflict psychological harm on the birds in order to make them disperse.
Just because it is deemed ludicrous in our society to equate human suffering with animal torture does not make this publicly approved act any less immoral by almost every religious and ethical standard. If it is wrong to cause harm to human animals, then it is wrong to cause harm to crows. “Do unto others” should be taken literally. ‘Others’ include all living beings, not just your own family, race, nation, or species. The real commandment is to view all living beings as a true reflection of our own self-worth.
Supposedly this program helps to reduce mess and damage that the congregation of 20,000 to 30,000 crows can cause. I want to know what the crows have to say. What humans call damage, is simply the way nature processes their bio-matter. Crows are not a problem. Some humans have a problem with crows.