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Published on Friday, February 15, 2019

Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales: Solution Needed for Overpopulation of Egrets on Elmendorf Lake

CONTACT: Victor Landa, 210-884-3429


SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 15, 2019) – “I often take my family for bicycle rides to Elmendorf Park, where we spend mornings or afternoons with our neighbors. Everyone who goes there agrees that the beautiful birds - also known as Cattle egrets – that live on Elmendorf Lake are part of the experience. As such, we want to find the best solution to address the overpopulation of these iconic birds while making sure that they remain an integral part of our community’s lifestyle.


There are serious concerns: their increased number and the droppings they leave pose a health hazard for park visitors, area residents, other wildlife and the surrounding trees; the large flock threatens the safety of pilots and crews aboard the military aircraft that fly overhead from Lackland AFB and Kelly Field; the number of strikes (birds hitting aircraft in flight) has increased locally in recent years—nearly 100 occurred in the San Antonio area in 2018. The potential for a community-devastating mishap can’t be ignored.


An equally important concern is for the Egrets’ well-being. The effort to reduce the flock must not endanger them, so creative solutions must be found. The methods USDA has proposed to disperse the flock at Elmendorf Lake Park are completely humane, and involve loud noises and flashing lights to discourage roosting in large numbers. Everything will be carried out in accordance with state and federal wildlife laws. The birds will not be harmed during this process.


It’s encouraging to see that many interested people have come forward to voice their ideas and questions. City staff collected a number of suggestions at the first meeting, are actively reviewing them and will respond to everyone who provided feedback before the next meeting.


I am one of those neighbors who looks forward to carrying out the best possible solution for the Elmendorf egrets’ overpopulation, one that preserves our wonderful way of life and takes the birds’ safety, as well as the lives of our military flight crews and the safety of our community, into account. The outcome will enhance the experience at Elmendorf Lake Park and increase opportunities for true recreation at this West Side gem.”


The second of two public informational meetings for area residents will take place at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 18 at YWCA’s Olga Madrid Community Center Gym, 503 Castroville Road. For more information and to share ideas for mitigation, residents can contact the Government & Public Affairs Department at 210-207-8109.

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