This week, our criminal lawyers discuss a women's concern over birds she has fed. They have started attacking her neighbors. Is she responsible for the birds' assault?
The Question: The poster has a murder of crows that is now aggressively "defending" her from neighbors, going so far as to dive-bomb them. If the (wild) crows (that she fed/befriended) actually attack & hurt someone on her "behalf," could she be held liable for their assault/the victim's injuries?
A couple of months ago, I was watching a nature program on our local station about crows. The program mentioned that if you feed and befriend them, crows will bring you small gifts. My emo phase came back full force and I figured that I was furloughed and had lots of time - so why not make some crow friends.
My plan worked a little too well and the resident 5 crows in my neighborhood have turned into an army 15 strong. At first my neighbors didn't mind and enjoyed it. They're mostly elderly and most were in a bird watching club anyway. They thought the fact that I had crows following me around whenever I go outside was funny.
Lately, the crows have started defending me. My neighbor came over for a socially distanced chat (me on my porch her in my yard) and the crows started dive-bombing her. They would not stop until she left my yard.
They didn't make any physical contact with her, but they got very close.
Am I liable if these crows injure someone since I fed them? I obviously can't control the crows. I would rather them not attack my neighbors. But since I technically created this nuisance, could I financially be on the hook for any injuries?
To be clear, they're not aggressive 100% of the time. If just the neighbors are out they are friendly normal crows. They only get aggressive when someone gets close to me or my property.
I have turned into Moira Rose, queen of the crows. My inadvertent crow army has gotten aggressive towards others. If they hurt someone could I be held liable?
The Answer: No, couldn't be charged with assault. (This question did induce a chuckle..hehe)
You, dear, have had quite an adventurous time during the pandemic. You are befriending and creating an army of crows, inadvertently.
While we here at JC Law do deal with homicide cases, the murder of crows is a little different. We sure did get a laugh out of reading this question in the office. First off, congrats on making some new friends during COVID-19. That's not easy to do during these lockdowns.
Secondly, to answer your query, no, you cannot be held liable for the crows' assault on your neighbors. They are wild animals and not pets.
Your dog, Fido, biting and injuring someone is a liability since they are your property and pet. It is your responsibility to make sure they interact peacefully with other humans and dogs as their owners.
Although you befriended these crows, and they're "defending" the homestead, they are doing that of their own wild free will.
Crows probably protect their roost, just like other animals protect their territories. They think your yard is home and are protecting it from intruders. You just stumbled onto a pretty effective security system. (Could crows give SimpliSafe and Ring a run for their money?)
Going back to your question, assault in Maryland is the fear of or actual harm from violence by a person. Wild animals are not listed in the definition, so crows attacking your neighbors is more likely an act of God than assault.
The best advice we can give is to contact a local bird expert. They can more than likely tell you how to stop the crows' behavior. Just guessing, but if you stop feeding them and paying them attention, they will probably leave on their own. That should return the neighborhood to its once peaceful tranquility.
Our automatic disclaimer: We're lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We're providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual's attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a "real" response!