pigeon papers

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Did you know the city of Boulder, Colorado is a Protected Bird Sanctuary?

Boulder Declared Wild Bird SanctuaryBird Poisoning Outlawed

by Jill Bielawski
October 7, 2002

When 14-year-old Emily Davis encountered rock doves convulsing and dying on a sidewalk in Boulder last April, she started making phone calls. To her dismay, she found that pigeon poisoning was common and legal. With the help of Rocky Mountain Animal Defense, Emily has learned that speaking out against cruelty to animals is worth it.

Thanks to a committed team of activists including Emily and several others, pigeons and many other birds in Boulder gained their first legal rights. On Oct. 1, the Boulder City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance declaring the city a bird sanctuary that protects all wild birds (ordinance available at http://www.ci.boulder.co.us/clerk/agenda/2002/100102/o-3c.pdf).

Migratory songbirds are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Boulder ordinance protects birds left off the federal list, such as pigeons, English house sparrows, and certain kinds of starlings, cowbirds, blackbirds, grackles, and geese. Violators could face 30 days in jail and fines up to $1000 per bird.

Anyone seeking a permit to be exempt from the law would be required to first state in writing that he or she has taken steps to control the situation by using exclusion devices and non-injurious bird repellents. A permit to poison would only be considered when a genuine threat to public health arises, but the chances of such a threat are slim.

Property owners who have traditionally hired exterminators to poison birds will save money by switching to non-lethal methods, because lethal control is never effective in the long term. For more information on bird poison, humane alternatives, and facts about birds and human health, see the RMAD Fact Sheet on Birds.

A humane, common-sense approach is most effective for bird control. Humane techniques require more patience but are less expensive and far more effective in the long run. It’s a win-win situation for birds and people.

The starlings at Mapleton Mobile Home ParkThe bird ordinance will not affect Boulder’s Mapleton Mobile Home Park, which the media pitted against the bird sanctuary ordinance in a media-created controversy this summer. A dozen homes sit beneath trees where a large flock of starlings or grackles comes to roost each summer.

The city and many of the affected residents opposed lethal control, which would have proved to be an impractical, logistic nightmare anyway. Most important, killing the birds would not have solved the problem. The birds have left for the year, and the city will be ready with humane solutions for their return in 2003. Attaching a rotating sprinkler to the trees and spraying the birds for short intervals over a few days has not been tried and might very well do the trick.

Also see text of ordinance:


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