Commander Pat Lowe said police first received a report several months ago that someone “believed that crows were being injured or shot with a BB or pellet gun. But it wasn’t very pronounced, so we didn’t have any suspect information or leads back at that time.”
Recently, however, police began receiving additional reports of residents finding dead or injured crows. “We had a couple people say they witnessed a person that was actually shooting these crows out of a vehicle,” Lowe said, adding that some video footage was provided to the department.
“I can confirm that there are birds that have been shot, I just don’t know how many at this point,” Lowe said. While some of the crows that were reported to be shot were located, other birds subsequently escaped or flew away and haven’t yet been recovered.
The first of the most recent incidents reported to police was on Feb. 21 in the 3900 block of 222nd Street Southwest. A resident said that after finding a dead crow on his property and checking his video surveillance, he saw a car stopped near the bird, which then suddenly died. The witness checked the area but found no spent ammunition casings. Officer reported that based on the video, it was hard to describe the vehicle and weapon used to kill the crow.
On Feb. 27, police received two more reports of dead crows: In the 3700 block of 225th Place Southwest, a recently deceased crow appeared to have a severe injury to its abdomen. And in the 4800 block of 239th Street Southwest, a woman reported discovering a dead crow in her yard. The bird had an entry wound in its chest the size of a BB or pellet.
And on the same day near the intersection of 44th Avenue West and 220th Street Southwest, an officer responded to a report of a female passerby who discovered three dead crows within an approximately 50-yard stretch near the intersection. No wounds consistent with gunshots were observed, but the woman said she had recently heard reports of crows being shot in the area and thought it could be related.
Then March 4 in the 4400 block of 224th Street Southwest, a woman discovered a dead crow in her driveway shortly after hearing an “air pop.” Surveillance camera footage showed an older red Ford Ranger with a canopy close by and then one “pop” sound is heard before a dead crow lands on the driveway.
Police also received many calls last weekend that reported incidents outside Mountlake Terrace, Lowe said. “We’ve been putting together all the calls in all the locations and taking all of the witness statements on what they saw to try to put together a good case to see if we can get some good leads on who this individual might be,” he said.
The department has been busy sorting through videos and information that witnesses have supplied, Lowe said. Some residents have even started bringing in dead crows they have found along roadsides, not knowing if those are perhaps related to the recent incidents or if they possibly died of other natural causes, he added.
“Clearly someone is out there shooting these crows and that is attributing to a lot of the crow deaths,” Lowe said. He added that he has been in contact with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife and “we’re going to work together on figuring out exactly what crimes are involved and…how to identify someone who may be responsible.”
Crow hunting is only allowed in Washington state from September through December and is subject to regulations, including requiring permission from landowners.
Mountlake Terrace residents have been commenting on social media, expressing their shock and concerns both for the crows and community safety. Several have noted the proximities of the shooting incidents and birds found dead to nearby schools and play areas. A crowdsourced map has also been created on a community social media page to track the crow killings and sightings in an effort to put a stop to the incidents.
Lowe said he had similar worries. “If someone is shooting a projectile from a vehicle that could be dangerous to our community,” he said. He also noted that the incidents involve committing a crime against the city’s wildlife, “which is another big problem.”
The Mountlake Terrace Police Department has assigned a detective to coordinate the investigation into the crow shootings. If you have information or tips, contact Detective Sergeant Burkett at 425- 670-8260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— By Nathan Blackwell