pigeons1102aLong-term pigeon solution
There is no denying that feral pigeons are a huge problem in some areas and cause extensive soiling of property. Contrary to popular belief they do not pose a risk to public health. If you doubt this statement you are welcome to look up scientific articles online. It is only pest control companies that depict pigeons as a health hazard.
The fact remains that large populations of feral pigeons are a nuisance and need to be controlled, but culling is not the way to do it. Culling is a completely ineffective method for the control of pigeon populations. A sudden reduction in numbers simply creates an increase in the resources available to the remaining birds.
A population is sustained by the resources that surround it. As long as there is enough food to sustain them, the population will keep replenishing.
Pigeons are also prolific breeders and dedicated parents can hatch several clutches back to back. A single a pair of pigeons can churn out two self-sustaining fledglings roughly every 40 days.
How long would it take for the remaining population to reproduce the amount of birds culled? The reality is that it would only take a couple of months at most.
Even if the shooters managed to kill a whopping half of the population and even if we assume that half of the babies born were to die before leaving the nest, it would still take less than three months for the remaining pigeons to reproduce the culled half of their flock, thereby making the entire exercise useless.
Our local councils can either keep using very short-term and short-sighted methods that do not achieve any tangible results, or they can start being proactive
Contraceptives, though certainly more effective than culling, are not an ideal solution either. They are expensive, and to be effective you need to feed the correct dosage regularly over a long period of time. Can one reliably control or even know how much of the medication the pigeons are consuming?
Also, as I understand it, there is the inherent risk that other wild bird populations can also consume the contraceptive. This may or may not be a concern in Sliema but I do not believe that contraceptives are the best solution to nuisance pigeon populations.
Instead of looking only at available options, let us look at some success stories.
Take for example Nottingham City Hospital that in five years managed to reduce a flock of birds to just 63, an incredible 95% drop in the population. Surrey Heath Borough Council also achieved an 80% reduction in their pigeon population in five years.
Heath Park Hospital in Cardiff says it prevented the birth of 150 pigeons each month with the help of one single volunteer. Paris claims to have prevented over 5,000 pigeon births in one year. How did they do it?
They built a pigeon loft, encouraged the pigeons to sleep and breed there, and tossed out the eggs they laid. The majority of the soiling and damage is done when the pigeons are roosting at night.
By building a safe and welcoming environment for the pigeons to roost in, while also installing anti-roosting systems on buildings, the birds can be drawn away from the problem areas and into a controlled environment.
Furthermore these lofts allow for access to the single most effective method of population control there is: egg removal. By encouraging the birds to breed in a controlled environment the city can effectively gain control over the breeding of its resident pigeon population.
All one has to do is manage the loft properly, weekly replace any laid eggs with fake eggs, and regularly clean out the area to avoid insect infestations. This method of control was established with success by the Pigeon Control Advisory Service (PiCAS International http://www.pigeoncontrolresourcecentre.org/html/reviews/artificial-breeding-facilities.html) as far back as the 1970s.
Unlike culling, it is not only extremely effective when done properly, but is a cost-effective long-term solution. Lofts can be built cheaply, though Paris chose to invest a huge amount in installing state-of-the-art lofts in its parks. Lofts can really be made from pretty much anything, utilising unused spaces and recycled materials, as long as they meet the pigeons’ needs.
At the end of the day the goal is to reduce the negative impact pigeons have on their urban environment. Our local councils can either keep using very short-term and short-sighted methods that do not achieve any tangible results, or they can start being proactive and figure out where and how to implement a long-term solution that allows the births in the population to be controlled, that encourages the birds to roost away from buildings, and invest in educating the public to better control refuse and litter and limit the available food source.
One can start by looking at the online resources and advice available, for example from the PiCAS International website itself which last I checked offered free guidance to public institutions on how to install and manage a pigeon control loft correctly.
Furthermore why not involve the community in the project? Perhaps entice University students to use the project as part of their studies, whether from a design aspect, a management aspect, an agricultural and animal husbandry aspect, or even in the use of recycled materials. There is so much potential in such a project above and beyond reducing pigeon numbers.
This method of pigeon control is a long-term project for a long-term solution. As with any long-term project, it will only work if the council sticks to it and keeps up with the management, cleaning and egg removal. It is not a one-time solution that will fix everything overnight, but it is the only method that will successfully control the pigeon population and reliably and effectively reduce pigeon numbers in our towns and cities.


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