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District rehoming birds, Bruins express concern

“Save the Swallows” signs have been put up around campus by students in Special Education Teacher Kathleen Kopecky’s class. Photo by Hailey Juergenson

Bear River is not only the home of the Bruins but it is also home to hundreds of swallows. Recently the nests that swallows live in all over campus are being knocked down and replaced with spikes in order to prevent them from colonizing at Bear River.

Jordan Kohler, Director of Maintenance and Operations for the Nevada Joint Union High School District, said he means the animals no harm.

“There is no ill will intended for the Cliff Swallows of Bear River,” said Mr. Kohler. “I have great respect for the species.”

According to Mr. Kohler his plan for the birds is safe and very effective.

“I worked in my previous position very closely with the USDA on a highly-effective program to encourage the birds to nest away from areas with a large human interface,” said Mr. Kohler. “This is the plan for Bear River: The basic premise is to discourage the birds from building nests in areas that have a lot of people. This is done by removing mud debris (unfinished & old nests) then placing things like spikes and boards in these areas. This method encourages the birds to build colonies close by, say the back of the gym, MPR or theater.”

Some students and staff believe that the birds shouldn’t be re-homed. Recently, a class taught by Special Education Teacher Kathleen Kopecky created signs in protest of the destruction of the swallows’ nests. The signs are white paper with a black swallow silhouette that reads “Save The Swallows.” 

“I think that they should just let the birds be,” said Sophomore Brendon Le. “They aren’t hurting anyone. No one really pays attention to them. They just want somewhere to live.”

Others, like Freshman Connor McGehee, agreed with Le.

“I feel that this is kind of mean,” said McGehee. “These birds only made their homes here because they don’t have very many options as to where else to go.”

Others, like Junior Zack Tener, think that the birds are an issue but that it might be too late to fix the issue.

“I think that they’ve already established a home so they shouldn’t be knocked down, it’s too late,” said Tener. “They are a huge problem with the school. They crap everywhere and the dirt they spread around campus is unsightly. I literally had to duck for cover one time because if you look at them they will swoop on you. All this could be prevented if they put up the nets everywhere.”

According to Mr. Kohler, the birds are a maintenance and a health issue.

“They are very messy with mud from the construction of the colony and the droppings from their residences,” said Mr. Kohler. “They also can spread diseases, such as histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, cryptococcosis.”

Despite this, students and staff alike are afraid the new plan will harm the birds.

“I get that they’re on campus, and it’s kind of an eyesore sometimes, but would you rather deal with an eyesore, or possibly harming these animals,” said McGehee.

Others see the district’s rehoming plan as a humane alternative to other solutions.

“I think that it is the most humane alternative possible,” said Senior Trey Jarmen. “The birds are a pest and if left unchecked they’ll only hurt the school’s property, students, and themselves. The birds will expand across the campus if left unchecked and that will result in ridiculous messes, as well as an abundance of trash being strewn around. They are knocking them down because it is the most humane way of getting them to move elsewhere. They aren’t killing any birds.”  

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District rehoming birds, Bruins express concern