It was the last thing Rebecca Taylor and her family expected to come across when they went out for groceries, and it was very unsettling.
While she was inside the Truro Superstore on Elm Street last Friday, her husband and 17-year-old daughter spotted a bird they thought was injured. A short time later the poisoned pigeon died in her husband’s hands.
“It looked like it was being electrocuted,” she said. “It was having seizures and defecating. He picked it up and was holding it when it died. It suffered at least half an hour.”
They spotted a small group of people standing around another dying pigeon, and one that had already died.
“It’s cruelty to cause an animal to suffer so long and in such a way,” said Taylor.
Upset by what she had seen, Taylor contacted Dr. Helene VanDoninck, of the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
“I’ve had poisoned pigeons before and they’re usually poisoned by Avitrol, which is marketed as humane, but attacks the nervous system and causes seizures,” she said.
“Their temperature goes up through the roof. Even if someone doesn’t like pigeons, this is not a humane way to get rid of them. “
She has saved some but others died despite her efforts. One was rescued outside a King Street business on Tuesday.
Since last Friday, 10 more dead pigeons have been found in the Elm Street parking lot.
Both Superstore management and property owner David Snook were unaware anyone was using poison in the vicinity until they were notified of the dead birds.
Bruce Nunn, media advisor with the NS Department of Natural Resources, said it is usually illegal to poison wildlife, including pigeons, according to the provincial Wildlife Act, although those licensed under the act may legally use Avitrol to control pigeons.
There have been cases of animals in Nova Scotia being poisoned in violation of the act and the department plans to look into the Truro poisonings.
“Trying to get rid of pigeons this way is useless,” said Van Doninck. “They could poison 100 and more would come back if there’s a suitable roosting spot.”
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