FORT WORTH, Texas, May 14 (UPI) -- Fort Worth, Texas, residents say they are on the alert with hand-held air horns to scare off egrets before the birds build nests.
Armament against the birds, protected by the Federal 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act ,which prevents disturbing or removing them while nesting, also includes a noisy propane-powered cannon from the city's compliance department, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Tuesday.
The idea is to make enough noise to keep the birds from nesting. Few precautions were taken last summer, resulting in bird droppings on driveways, lawns that turned brown and the air filled with flies and stench, the newspaper said.
"It was a biblical plague," said James Burr, an air horn-wielding resident of the city's Tanglewood area. "It ruined our summer and our opportunities to go outside."
After the egrets flew to their winter home, the local Tanglewood Neighborhood Association devised a plan to trim tree branches and encourage residents to arm themselves with noisemakers.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said there are no plans to take the egrets off the protected list although their reason for being on the list, use of their feathers to decorate women's hats, may no longer be a factor.
While the birds are considered a nuisance, permits are available to remove them, but officials say they seek a system in which humans and nature can co-exist.
"We don't want the birds to get too used to coming here," said Bill Campbell, neighborhood association president. "We will probably have to do this [scare off the birds] every year."