pigeon racing pillUnsure of how to control a tourist boom that has prompted street protests, Barcelona has at least come up with a way to stop an invasion of the feathered variety: by putting pigeons on the pill.

Experts estimate there are 85,000 pigeons in the city and they blame the birds for spreading illnesses and covering people in excrement.

Now authorities plan to introduce the contraceptive nicarbazine, which does not harm the birds’ health, in 40 feeding tanks. It is hoped the population will fall by 20 per cent in the first year and 70 per cent within four years.

Ada Colau, the left-wing Mayor of Barcelona, has opted for an “ethical” solution. In the past, council workers captured pigeons in nets and killed them using carbon dioxide.

A more difficult problem comes in the form of tourists, nine million of whom visited Barcelona last year. Residents have taken to the streets to protest against the numbers, fearing that the city will be overwhelmed. The council has fined accommodation rental websites Airbnb and HomeAway 600,000 ($850,000) each for advertising flats without tourist permits.

Meanwhile, Ms Colau has been criticised by tourism companies for a plan to cut the number of hotels in the CBD.

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