Allen Dealing with Cattle Egrets Again

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    NEWSLETTERS

    With its second city park in two years becoming active breeding area for federally protected cattle egrets, the city of Allen is looking for solutions. This year, they're introducing a new natural solution to cut down on the smell the birds create. (Published Tuesday, Jun 10, 2014)

    Allen's Stacy Ridge Park is officially an active rookery.

    That means, as of late May, thousands of federally protected cattle egrets have begun to nest and breed.

    Because of the bird's status, it makes the woods on the park's perimeter off limits to city staff and residents, alike.

    In the meantime, neighbors are calling the new arrivals' presence less than pleasant.

    "I didn't expect to see all the feathers and debris along the walkway," said Kelly David of Allen.

    "The smell is horrible," said Kyla Slaughter, also of Allen. "We're constantly covering up [our noses] as we walk along the trail."

    The birds nest for up to six months and the city of Allen is all too familiar with the situation.

    Brian Bristow, Assistant Director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, said they often arrive overnight.

    "Once you see one, get ready for them," he said.

    Last year, the birds nested in the city's Celebration Park, the first time they landed in city limits.

    Their presence shut down walking and biking trails and left the city with a major cleanup effort once they migrated away.

    This spring, Bristow says the city was "ready".

    They thinned the foliage and branches in Celebration Park, making it less appealing for the birds.

    They also attempted to scare them off before they nested.

    But the efforts didn't deter the birds; it just moved them.

    "I don't know what the solution is, but this isn't it," Slaughter said.

    The city does have a plan to ease the odor problem, often left behind by the birds' droppings.

    They're using a new microbial solution that can be sprayed without, they say, violating the laws protecting the birds or harming humans or animals.

    The solution claims to naturally break down smell.

    Bristow said Allen is also monitoring the birds' flight patterns to better predict where they'll land next year.

    They also have a plan to monitor all the city's parks for a potential migration.

    While the birds have to nest and breed, they'd prefer them land in a less densely populated area.