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Citizens alarmed at the recent appearance of individuals shining green lights in the downtown district at dusk are being informed the action is part of Artesia MainStreet’s effort to discourage the roosting of the district’s grackle population.

MainStreet Executive Director Elisabeth Jackson says the organization has assembled a group of “Bird Control” volunteers, who will be walking through downtown between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m. with fluorescent vests an 30mW green lasers in an effort to “disperse the grackles and discourage them from roosting in our downtown trees.”

“Our group has been testing the lasers and coming up with best-approach strategies this past week, and we are thrilled to report that it is working!” said Jackson. “The key is consistency – we need to walk the downtown district each night for at least the next month before they begin nesting so we can encourage them to nest elsewhere.”

Jackson notes the lasers were created specifically for the purpose of disrupting but not harming the birds, nor are they dangerous to humans. She says effective beam and range ensures the birds cannot overlook the lights, and MainStreet has been given the OK for the action from the City of Artesia and the Artesia Police Department.

“By removing the birds from downtown, we will greatly impact the look of downtown and reduce the countless hours of cleaning our sidewalks,” Jackson said.

Jackson says the bird dispersing is occurring after most downtown businesses are closed; however, if any business owners have questions or concerns, they can contact Jackson at 746-1117. She says the “Bird Control” group is also seeking additional volunteers. Those interested may contact her at the number above.

The effort, while new, already has its detractors. The Daily Press has received several communications over the past few days, one from an individual angry after one of the green lights startled her as she was driving down Main, and others from individuals who say they enjoy the grackles’ presence.

“If the city would utilize some of their many workers who aren’t always engaged with other tasks to spray the ‘high-grackle-traffic’ sidewalks once every week or two weeks, the ‘poop’ wouldn’t pile up and become unsightly,” wrote one individual by email. “I enjoy the grackles. Their nightly roosting is a grand spectacle of nature, and they have become a tourist attraction. We’ve talked to many people who have come from out of town to film them or who see them while passing through town and stop to take pictures or videos.”

“Hey, Artesia! Leave them grackles alone!” wrote another. “You planted trees downtown; trees attract birds. Not sure what’s a surprise about any of this. Spray the poop, leave the birds.”