pigeon papers

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

Friday, June 03, 2005



Many people are disturbed about the poisoning of pigeons and other birds in their cities. Bird poisons have been banned in places such as New York City; Fort Collins, Colo.; San Francisco, Great Britain, and most recently, in Boulder, Colo. To view Boulder’s new bird sanctuary ordinance, go to http://www.ci.boulder.co.us/clerk/agenda/2002/100102/o-3c.pdf.

Bird poisons should be banned everywhere because they are:

Avitrol and other bird poisons are not, as frequently reported, “LSD for birds.” Avicides such as Avitrol are acutely toxic, and they kill. After birds ingest treated grain or kernels, they suffer from seizures and a slow shutdown of the nervous system for up to 15 hours. If found in time, rehabilitators can save some birds, but without treatment, the birds die.
Songbirds and other birds feeding on the poisoned bait are killed, and predators such as raptors, foxes, hawks, cats and dogs are at risk of secondary poisonings from feeding on the dead or dying birds. It is illegal under federal law to harm any endangered, threatened, or migratory birds.
People who hire exterminators to poison birds actually save money and frustration by switching to non-lethal methods, because lethal control is never effective in the long term. Bird populations respond to poisoning with increased birth and survival rates and decreased emigration. If food, water, and shelter remain, others will move in to the open space within a short time. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, killing birds can actually create favorable grounds for breeding and can result in an increase in bird populations.

Dangerous to Humans.
Humans can die or become ill from accidental ingestion of or skin exposure to small amounts of bird poison, as occurred in Las Vegas recently after a little boy brought home a pigeon he'd found. The bird was dying of Avitrol poisoning. Shortly after, the family began to show poisoning symptoms, and the boy became very ill. His parents are taking legal action.

According to New York City's Avitrol ban, "Avitrol is too deadly and too blunt an instrument to be used in an urban setting."

Effective bird control = humane control.

The only effective strategy is the simultaneous application of three basic techniques:

1. physical exclusion from a structure2. humane repellants to produce conditions that compel birds to avoid the site3. cultural methods that focus on the elimination of the food supply.

Simple modifications in a building's structure can discourage birds from landing or nesting. Netting, wire coils/porcupine wire, spikes, Mylar tape streamers and slanting boards are among many do-it-yourself solutions to evict birds.

Ropel, a foul-tasting deterrent, also repels birds. (Sticky chemical repellents applied to ledges to discourage roosting are touted as humane but can actually kill birds and other wildlife.)

For more information, go to http://www.birdbarrier.com/ and http://www.urbanwildlifesociety.org/UWS/BrdCtrl/BrdCtlProd.html.

Debunking Myths

Pigeons and other non-migratory birds have suffered from a program of misinformation led by "pest control" companies and biased media.

Myth: Pigeons spread disease.Fact: There have been no documented cases of disease in people caused by wild or free-ranging pigeons (Humane Society of the United States).

The public is at little or no health risk from pigeons (Cincinnati Environmental Advisory Council). There is no evidence that a person can contract the West Nile virus from handling live or dead infected birds. According to the National Institutes of Health, "One could not justify an eradication of pigeons for the sole purpose of protecting people from cryptotococcosis and histoplasmosis." Authorities concur that bird poisons pose more of a risk to human health than any bird droppings do.

Myth: Avitrol is not a poison but merely a "flight alarm": The affected birds emit distress calls that scare off the others. Fact: Pigeons do not scream. They have no sound for pain. Avitrol kills, plain and simple.

Myth: Pigeons have no natural predators. Fact: Hawks, owls, falcons, eagles, cats, rats and foxes all use pigeons as a food source in urban areas.

Myth: Killing birds will reduce their numbers.Fact: Killing birds actually creates favorable grounds for breeding. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, if one-fourth of the birds in a flock are killed, the flock can be expected to return to its original size within six months to two years.

The National Pest Control Association, Avian and Wildlife Biologists, and other animal experts agree that extermination and other removal schemes are, at best, temporary and wasteful solutions to bird control.

Exterminators won’t reveal this fact because killing birds guarantees repeat business. For more information about RMAD’s work to protect wild birds, contact Jill Bielawski at jillb@rmad.org.


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