EFFORTS to clear Leatherhead’s main shopping mall of pesky pigeons have taken off after conservationists began the fowl task of clearing the birds and their mess.
Volunteers from the Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF) began work to clear the pigeons and put up meshing at the Swan Centre last Thursday to stop the birds from nesting in the building’s alcoves.
The Leatherhead-based wildlife charity said it was brought in by the shopping centre’s management to make sure the unwanted guests were removed “as humanely as possible”.
The charity’s founder and chief executive Simon Cowell said it was common practice for building managers to remove pigeons by shooting or poisoning the birds.
He said: “There is no good or bad time to remove pigeons as they nest all year round, but it is better that they are removed than killed and we will do so in a completely humane and sensitive manner.
“The cleaning was started as was the meshing but sadly the job was much bigger than we first anticipated so we will be working with the Swan Centre to finish up over the coming days.”
He said shopping centre managers will now finish installing the netting and charity staff will then return and remove small parts of the netting to complete the clear-out, before replacing it.
Mr Cowell added that he hoped the method for dealing with the Swan Centre’s pigeons could become the model for how wildlife intrusions are dealt with in shopping malls and public spaces in Surrey.
“We got one baby out and it was a hell of a mess up there,” he said. “It was really nice that they wanted and asked for us to deal with it as opposed to the much nastier way.
“The Swan Centre deserves praise because to see big companies taking the less practical but more humane route is rare and it shows the community cares about its wildlife.
“Pigeons might not be the most popular of wildlife but they are just as important as any other and deserve as much of our attention as anything else.
“It’s a shame that when these shopping centres are built thought isn’t given to the wildlife. If they were built properly in the first place we would have no need for meshing or the spikes.”
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