ALMOST 800 pigeons roosting on Southend Hospital were killed last year.
The hospital called in pest control to deal with the birds, which they said were a health risk. The dead birds were used as fodder for birds of prey.
Jan China, director of estates and facilities, at Southend Hospital said feral pigeons had caused a lot of problems on the site and were a potential health hazard, particularly in operating theatres.
She said: “Large numbers of pigeons present at Southend Hospital have historically created a lot of mess. They have been known to enter the premises via small gaps in windows which can affect the cleanliness of the patient care environment and plant/ventilation rooms which provides fresh air supply to the theatres.
“The trust invests in deterrents to keep feral pigeons away from trust premises as far as reasonably practicable. These installations include netting to deter feral pigeons from entering particular areas and spiking on window ledges to prevent roosting as well as the periodic use of a bird scarer. Any birds that become trapped in netting are released.”
The director said pest control companies broke the pigeon’s necks and the bodies were then frozen and given to wildlife centres.
She added: “All work in relation to control of feral pigeons is undertaken in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Animal Welfare Act 2006. Where these methods cause additional problems or become ineffective, the trust employs a licensed pest control company to humanely remove the pigeons in accordance with the Act. 790 pigeons were removed by the contracted pest control company during 2014, and they dealt with the removal and disposal of the birds.”
Lauren Hollas from Southend Animal Aid criticised the action. She said: “I’m quite appalled and shocked to hear this. There must be a more humane alternative to killing so many pigeons. There are ways of deterring them. It’s brutal.
“Even netting can cause issues. They can get stuck.
“The hospitals needs to find ways of stopping them getting in the building or roosting on the building. This is a quick fix, but it must be costing the hospital a lot of money.
“Pigeons are very succesful at breeding, but people need to give them some credit rather than dismiss them as vermin.
They are wildlife just trying to survive and they were a lot of help to us during the war.”
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