‘Highly acidic’ bird dung concerns Chesterfield neighbors

Posted at 12:46 PM, Apr 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-24 13:49:59-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va (WTVR) - Hearing loud booms is nothing new to neighbors who live in the Chesterfield's Woodlake community.  Previous reports of mysterious booms have been tied to hunters shooting explosives or military training.

Neither was the cause of the most recent booms. This week "cormorant dispersal" is going on around Woodlake. Cormorants are migratory birds that normally live north of Virginia, but because of weather conditions, environmentalists for Woodlake said the birds began to nest near Swift Creek Reservoir.

The birds are considered an invasive species that destroys natural plant life by clearing off branches to rest on and their "highly acidic" dung. That dung can negatively impact water quality, Woodlake Environmental Committee member Natalie Perry said.

Here is where the booms come in. 

This week USDA officials have been firing pyrotechnics off boats on the reservoir in order to "disperse" or scare the birds.

Perry said the pyrotechnics are basically fireworks that spook the birds. She added the technique does not harm the animals.

The crews begin near sunset, so that the cormorants fly away and do not come back later in the night.  Since the birds are clumsy flyers, experts said they typically spend the night where they end up.

Woodlake and USDA officials will conduct one more round of cormorant dispersal Thursday night.