WILLMAR -- Willmar police officers were out-run, out-flown and out-maneuvered this past week in their attempts to capture four guinea fowl that had been living --- uninvited -- in a southwest Willmar neighborhood since last winter.
The goal was a catch-and-release plan, said Chief David Wyffels. The hope was that the guineas would be caught and relocated to an area farm.
But live traps didn't work.
"Then we tried the old cop trick and tried to run and catch them, but that's didn't work," he said. The closest officers could get to the domesticated, but flighty birds, was 20 feet.
In one incident the birds flew to the top of a two-story house.
"Our officers can't fly. Nor can they run as fast," said Wyffels.
The birds are quick and smart and no one, not even the Department of Natural Resources, had a suggestion for catching them.
Meanwhile the number of phone calls and complaints were increasing every day from residents who wanted the noisy, defecating birds removed -- including a neighborhood daycare provider.
Police knew they couldn't ignore the guineas and "hope they'd go away," said Wyffels, reluctantly admitting they were forced to take more permanent action.
At their wits ends, a sharp-shooter with the department, armed with a pellet gun, began hunting the fowl in the residential neighborhood on Friday.
By the end of the weekend three were killed and the remaining one was "last seen headed out of town at a high rate of speed and we haven't seen it since," Officer Jim Felt said Sunday afternoon.
Wyffels said the birds wandered into the neighborhood and spent the whole winter there, apparently feeding in a yard where food was offered to them.
It's against city ordinance to keep domestic fowl in town without a permit, said Wyffels, adding that the police had no choice but no enforce animal control laws and remove the animals, which had become a pest.
With the guineas gone, the police are now facing a new animal problem -- muskrats. Officers took numerous reports over the weekend of muskrats in yards, roads and even in basement window wells.