John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The Zamboniesque vehicle is waging war on Portland’s infestation of crows.
If you’re ever in Portland and find yourself barreled down upon by a Galapagos turtle/Zamboni crossbreed, never fear: It’s simply the “Poopmaster 6000,” doing its duty of keeping things squeaky clean.
The city gave the curious machine a public unveiling on Tuesday, where it whirred around downtown’s red-bricked sidewalks while leaving a sluglike trail of moisture. Its mission: to water-blast the whitish droppings of crows, which this time of year accumulate in Portland’s trees in massive numbers. The machine is actually a Tennant M20 Integrated Rider Sweeper-Scrubber, but for the next couple months will remain branded ”Poopmaster 6000”—a proud title reinforced by its insignia of a sheepish, crapping crow inside a no symbol.
Are Portland’s crows, which happen to be federally protected, so bad they require a combat-ready vehicle for poop? One local writing on Reddit says it’s true:
Working in the Standard Insurance Building, I can tell you that this is definitely a necessity right now. I love the crows being around, but I don’t love what they leave behind. Not only is it gross (and you damn near have to play hopscotch to keep the poop off your shoes), if it’s fresh it’s slick, which can create a real slipping hazard on the bricks (and goodness knows, you don’t want to fall in that stuff!).
This is the second straight year the city has rolled out the self-contained Poopmaster, which is owned by Portland Mall Management Inc. and driven by a worker from the Downtown Clean & Safe District. Expect to see it doing its thing Monday through Friday mornings into the spring.