A California city has spent the last several years trying to solve its growing crow problem, using everything from reflectors on trees to letting a falcon on the loose. Though those tactics had some success, they weren’t enough to scare off the thousand-plus crows that’ve taken over Sunnyvale’s downtown area. So what does the city plan to do now?

Utilize simple and affordable technology.

According to the New York Times, city officials plan to use small $20 green lasers to drive away the birds that have been the cause of countless headaches. Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein told the outlet that crows have been congregating downtown over the last five years, but their presence has drastically increased since the pandemic. He says the birds flock to the area to eat any scraps they can find, defecate all over the sidewalks, and even drop objects—like twigs—on people dining in the area.

“I’ll go inside, unless I’m under an umbrella.” Klein told KGO-TV, before revealing he got the laser idea from a friend. “Thing is, they’re not here during the day, it’s just at night. It’s just when they start coming around when the sun goes down. It’s a health problem we’ve had to deal with, and at the cost of the city, so if we have a cheap solution, there’s no reason [not] to try it, right?”

The mayor said city workers will spend an hour each night pointing the lasers at the bird, and will use a boombox that will play sounds of crows in distress. Though the method might seem unusual, US officials say it has proven to be effective in other cities with similar problems. 

But not everyone is on board with the laser plan. Environmental groups, such as the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, say the use of lasers could blind the birds, resulting in harm not only to the animals, but the residents of Sunnyvale.

The city is expected to kick off the laser plan before the end of the month.