Fifteen-year-old Aurora Milbrandt impressed Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark with a presentation at city hall on how to deal with pesky pigeons in a humane way.
Milbrandt appeared at Monday’s meeting of city council’s environment, utilities and community services committee to address a request to ban the use of neurotoxins to kill nuisance pigeons.
“Wow,” Clark said after Milbrandt’s presentation. “For a Grade 10 student, that was a very well presented set of arguments and solutions.”
Milbrandt targeted the product Avitrol, saying contrary to what some believe the chemical agent can result in a “very painful death” for pigeons and other small animals that consume it.
She suggested the city consider euthanizing pigeons as a last resort and focus on other measures — educating the public not to feed pigeons, using a birth control product to make female pigeons barren and employing a predator like a hawk or falcon.
The committee heard that the City of Saskatoon no longer uses Avitrol. Clark asked whether any city has banned its use throughout the community, including by private citizens and businesses.
City lawyer Blair Bleakney told the committee the city could enact a bylaw to govern chemical use on private property, but advised against a ban on a specific product.
The committee voted unanimously to direct the administration to study a pest management strategy for the city.
The city contracts out pest management, including pigeon control, to private contractors and Avitrol has been used in the past, a city report says.
The city stopped using Avitrol after Jan Shaddick, executive director of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, appeared before the same committee in May to request the city discontinue the product’s use, the report adds.
The city hired a contractor this year to euthanize about 1,500 pigeons that had made their home inside cavities in the piers of the Senator Sidney L. Buckwold Bridge, the report notes. In September, the city said 2,300 pigeons were euthanized.
Angela Gardiner, the city’s general manager of utilities and environment, said there is an understanding between city hall and the contractor that animals will be euthanized according to Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) standards.
“The CVMA holds that when animals are euthanized, death must be quick using a method that causes the least possible pain and distress,” Gardiner wrote in an email.
She did not know the exact method of euthanasia used for the Buckwold Bridge pigeons. Grating was installed during rehabilitation work on the bridge to ensure pigeons do not return to the cavities.
The company working on the bridge removed about 635 tonnes of pigeon waste from the cavities.
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