What Alfred Hitchcock imagined, Dale Bateman lives with every morning.
Bateman, whose family has kept a 100-acre dairy farm near the Taylorsville-Bennion area for five generations despite cities growing up all around them, has birds - tens of thousands of them.And, as in Hitchcock's horror film, they swoop down each morning while Bateman and his workers feed their cattle.
"The starlings and pigeons are defecating in the feed," said Bateman, who feeds his cattle outdoors. "If we don't do something soon there will be more and more of them."
Until recently, Bateman and his workers used a shotgun to scare the birds. But his neighbors, the nearest of whom live about a quarter-mile away, complained. A sheriff's deputy drove to the farm to inform Bateman it is illegal to fire a gun within county limits.
On Wednesday, Bateman visited the Salt Lake County Commission and asked that he be granted an exemption from the gun law. "We're just going to scare them (the birds) away," he said. "We may kill one or two in the process."
Bateman said he is a bird lover and does not want to kill them indiscriminately. But he worries the bird droppings may spread disease among his approximately 200 head of cattle.
Commission Chairman Mike Stewart agreed to write a letter asking Sheriff Pete Hayward to allow Bateman to use his gun.
Bateman says an increase in people around his farm is to blame for the birds. He said he never had problems like this in the old days when he was more isolated. The birds are a problem only in winter when snow covers their usual feeding places.
"Some people must be breeding pigeons," he said. "We didn't have as many as this 10 years ago. If we can keep them moving, maybe they'll move elsewhere."
He was surprised that neighbors complained about the gun shots. He said he goes to great lengths not to disturb others.
"Most people don't even know we're there," he said. "We've been careful of people's consciousness."