pigeon papers

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Wyoming Plans to Poison, kill, "eradicate" pigeons...

City unveils plan to eliminate pigeons


Boomerang Staff Writer

A good share of Laramie's pigeon population could soon be headed tobird heaven.

The Laramie City Council will consider a plan Tuesday to eradicate pigeons from the city — by trapping, shooting or poisoning them. Under the proposal, the city would sign a $2,033 contract with theU.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife Services to destroyor capture the birds over a two-week period.

The program couldcontinue into the future, with each additional extermination costingthe city $1,344.City officials say the pigeon population needs to be reduced becausethe birds carry infectious diseases that could be passed to humans.

They also carry parasites, destroy property and are the targets ofcontinuing nuisance complaints."I don't think we could ever get rid of all of them, and having just afew pigeons doesn't threaten humans," Interim City Manager DickWaggener said.

"But when the numbers continue to multiply, we have todo something about it."Officials have recommended using a combination of lethal andnon-lethal techniques. Within the city, the pigeons would be capturedwith live traps. However, Waggener said he was uncertain what wouldhappen to the birds once they are trapped.

Outside city limits, exterminators would use guns or chemicals to killthe birds. Waggener said poisons would be used in a "very safemanner," ensuring that other animals don't come in contact withchemicals or dead birds.The plan initially would focus on the downtown area, Mountain CementCompany and the University of Wyoming Agriculture Research Facility.

The Old Fox Theater, the abandoned downtown building that has become apopular pigeon hangout spot, also would be targeted.It is estimated that up to a thousand pigeons have lived in thetheater at any one time, according to city officials.The pigeons have managed to enter the old theater through a large holein the roof.

There are several feet of bird feces inside the building,which officials say poses a health hazard. Dusts containing fungalspores can be left behind by the birds and spread by the wind."I think anything we can do to make this a healthier place to live isour responsibility," Waggener said.For years, Laramie residents have squawked about the pigeon problem:bird poop on their balconies and windowsills; feathers and deadpigeons plugging their roof drains; pigeons flying inside theirwindows or making homes out of satellite dishes and other manmade devices.

"We've received many complaints from people across town," Waggenersaid. "It's not just the downtown area. Everywhere you go, you findpigeons."The city currently has no ordinance or policy addressing pigeoncontrol. After reviewing the Laramie Municipal Code, the cityattorney's office has determined the elimination plan wouldn't classify as "cruelty to animals.

"Waggener said he wasn't certain how many pigeons would be captured or killed if the plan is approved by councilors. Exterminators would workup to 56 hours during each elimination period and would attempt tocapture or kill as many birds as possible during that time, he said.In the long-term, the city must eliminate nesting and roosting areas,remove food sources and continue periodic population control, Waggenersaid.

When people feed the birds, either intentionally orunintentionally, it aggravates the problem, he said.

According to the USDA, pigeons depend on humans to provide them withfood and sites for roosting and nesting. They primarily feed on manure, insects, grains, garbage and other food provided by humans. Most pigeons live on rooftops, ledges and other architectural features on buildings. Pigeon feces deface and accelerate the deterioration of buildings, and officials have responded to cases where birds have damaged property.

Waggener said some downtown business owners had threatened to poison pigeons, but were discouraged from doing so. It is common for cities to control pigeons, because it's unlikely individuals could effectively control populations on their own, he said.

So far, no one has opposed the plan."I'm sure there will be people who are opposed to doing anything withpigeons," Waggener said. "But we haven't received complaints yet."


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