For 53 years, large flocks of pigeons have called the Sid Buckwold Bridge home.
And for 53 years, they’ve also used it as a washroom.
The City of Saskatoon is embarking on a dirty mission to rid the bridge of 348 metric tonnes of pigeon poop over the next several months.
Angela Gardiner, the city’s general manager of transportation and construction, told Saskatchewan Afternoon that the collective weight of the droppings is equivalent to 232 mid-sized vehicles being parked on the bridge at all times.
She said the pigeons have been holing up inside utility cavities in the bridge and those provide a cozier home than other crossings in Saskatoon.
“Once we actually got in there over the last couple of years … the extent of the pigeon droppings was quite a bit more than we had anticipated,” Gardiner said.
She emphasized there hasn’t been any structural damage to the Sid Buckwold Bridge from the pigeon poop, but if it were left to stay, it could start wearing it out.
The pigeon droppings contain uric acid, which has the potential to eat away at the concrete used to build the crossing.
“There is a potential with any dead load like this that it could impact the structural integrity,” she said.
Specialized crews have been hired by the city to remove the droppings at the same time as rehabilitation work is done on the overall structure of the bridge.
In addition to the bridge cleanup, workers will install barriers to make it harder for birds to nest on the structure in the future.
However, the pigeons that have been displaced from the bridge will keep coming back — so Gardiner said the city plans to euthanize all 1,500 of them “humanely.”
“Part of the problem with pigeons is they’re homing birds, so if you just relocate them elsewhere, they’ll come back very quickly,” Gardiner said.
“If we fenced it off or prevented them from getting back there, they’ll just find a nearby location. I don’t think anyone wants 1,500 pigeons on their property.”
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