Hook and Bullet Club

by Nick Wognum

Edgar Allen Poe may forever be tied to ravens, but there are some people in Ely who have heard enough of the black birds and would like to see them “nevermore.”<BR><BR>DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch received a phone call last week from a homeowner in Ely who wanted to know if the DNR provides roof repairs.<BR><BR>It seems that this person’s neighbors has been feeding birds, and ravens in particular. The ravens have become a nuisance of sorts, picking apart garbage and tearing off shingles on rooftops. <BR><BR>We’ve all heard the calls of ravens in town and seen them swooping through, always on the search for food. Problems arise when people feed them on a regular basis.<BR><BR>“It’s the same deal with deer. We’ve got nature lovers out there and when we concentrate them with feeding you’re going to have problems,” said Rusch.<BR><BR>Those problems include noise, droppings and in the case of the raven, damage to property.<BR><BR>Ravens have been seen picking shingles off, leaving some homeowners crying “nevermore.”<BR><BR>The reason for the shingle damage is likely the bird’s habit of taking food and hiding it to eat later. The shingles make a neat hiding place and when it’s time to eat, the shingle can easily be lifted or ripped to get at the tasty morsels.<BR><BR>“We also have had reports that ravens have pecked through rubber roofs. It’s fine to enjoy wildlife but when it’s to the detriment of neighbors, I think we have to address it,” said Rusch. <BR><BR>From a wildlife perspective, feeding of birds, deer or any creature is discouraged, mainly for the damage it can do to those being fed.<BR><BR>“There is a disease concern any time you have a concentration. We’re seeing this with red polls and pine siskens where you have the bag of food hanging there and the feed falls in the same spot as the droppings and you end up with these birds getting salmonella,” said Rusch.<BR><BR>“This is not always a problem when it’s cold out but in warmer weather the bacteria will start to multiply. You just don’t want to see disease issues exacerbated with feeding,” said Rusch.<BR><BR>There is no simple solution for this problem if your neighbor wants to keep feeding ravens or birds in general, other than perhaps a steel roof. <BR><BR>Even in that case there can be problems. Last spring a pair of ravens made a nest above the grandstand at Veterans Memorial Field. Baseball fans were able to listen to raven calls and umpire calls all at the same time until the nest was finally knocked down. <BR><BR>If there is any positive side to this issue, it’s that Ely has not been as popular for sea gulls as other area cities. And if you’ve listened to ravens and sea gulls, I think you would agree it would be the gulls to which you would say, “nevermore.”