KT95102-06Culling pigeons is becoming an attractive solution for local authorities but is ineffective in dealing with the root of the problem, according to an ornithologist.
“Shooting pigeons is a temporary solution,” Natalino Fenech told the Times of Malta. “The only solution is to introduce contraceptive feed while also ensuring that the dilapidated buildings where pigeons nest are shut.”
The Sliema local council angered some residents last week by carrying out a pigeon cull, which continues.
Mayor Anthony Chircop said the cull was the only solution to the “uncontrollable infestation” and that other methods – including contraceptive feed – had been tried but proved ineffective.
Dr Fenech, however, said the effect of contraceptive feed wore off after a few weeks, so the measure had to be sustained to yield a noticeable result and serve as a long-term solution.
Martha Vella Kane, a Sliema resident and former member of the locality’s animal welfare committee, blasted the council for not working with residents to find a solution and called the cull a “massacre”.
You have to work with those feeding the pigeons, not against them
“You have to work with the people feeding the pigeons, not against them,” she said. “For an animal lover, putting up signs saying not to feed the pigeons has no effect.”
Ms Vella Kane said feeders would be ready to switch to contraceptive feed and added that residents had similarly spent a year neutering cats in the area, which greatly reduced the stray population. “At the same time, you don’t want to eradicate pigeons altogether, just keep the population down,” she said.
“Imagine St Mark’s Square, in Venice without pigeons.”
Sliema is not the only locality facing problems due to an overpopulation of pigeons, which can spread disease and damage street furniture and buildings with their waste.
Birkirkara mayor Joanne Debono Grech said that her council had recently tried an innovative approach using a non-toxic repellent gel, which tricked the birds into thinking buildings were on fire.
However, Ms Debono Grech added, the approach was not effective enough and the council was considering other options, although she had no intention of opting for a cull. According to the mayor, the area around the church had been worst affected and some residents had resorted to their own remedies.
Culls have also been carried out by the government’s animal welfare department in Balluta in St Julian’s and at St Luke’s Hospital in Pietà in recent years.
A spokesman for the Pietà council said further measures were being studied after “daily” complaints by residents but there were no immediate plans.


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