Noisy, messy, and large Cattle Egrets have returned to Texoma. The statue-esk bird stands about a foot and a half tall and is attractive, with their white feathers and orange beaks. However, you don't want them sticking around. "Well they're a big problem if they're in your backyard. They tend to move around a good bit so they may be a problem for a few days but if they start to nest then that's a big problem," said Luett McMahen, Game Warden for Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Cattle Egrets are migratory birds, protected by both state and federal law. McMahen says, the law is specific about how the birds are to be handled. "You can't kill them or if they're already nesting and they've got their eggs in the nest than you can't force them to move at that time," said McMahen.
The Egrets are known to carry mites and other organisms so they pose a real health risk, especially to children playing near their nests. They also poop, a lot. Tips to lawfully get rid of them include; "if they're kind of gathering, you can spray them with water, make noise, and flush them out of the trees. You can't shoot them or kill them but you can kind of keep them moving. You just want to kind of keep them out of your area," said McMahen.
If residents are caught, trapping, harming, or killing the birds they can be fined and or jailed under state and federal penalties. "With the state it's a Class C Code Misdemeanor...It's a 25 to 500 dollar fine set by a judge," said McMahen.
And if you don't think law enforcement is watching, think again. "We do active patrol, we respond to calls. And we set up in areas we think there might be a violation," said McMahen. If the tips provided aren't working to rid your yard of the pesky birds then call Animal Control or Parks and Wildlife. But do it fast, once the nests are made the birds can't be moved.