It’s always surprising to find yourself in the newspaper unexpectedly, as I was, being called out for attempting to address the issue of “the pigeon problem” this summer.
Over the past year, there has been a huge increase in pigeons in the Platzl. Where there is food, pigeons will gather, yet scraps from patios are not the root of the problem. The patios probably kept the 3 or 4 pigeons fed that have been here for years. This summer, someone decided that they wanted to feed the birds, expressing that he enjoys their company, and the pigeons responded in droves. With cups of bird seed thrown out every morning, the 3 or 4 pigeons quickly became a whole flock.
Pigeons are one of the dirtiest birds, carrying parasites, such as mites and lice, and when city employees clean up the ever-increasing droppings, they can actually contract cryptococcosis, histoplasmosis, and psittacosis, causing serious health issues, and in extreme cases, even death. With the welfare of our children playing in the Platzl and city employees at risk, I see this as an issue that needs to be addressed. Of course, city hall might not.
I was informed by the provincial corporate wildlife officer, Yves Antaya, that Trail, BC, had a similar problem, of pigeon feeding. Trail neglected the issue until the city was teeming with pigeons and the grounds began turning white from their excrement. An approach other than ignoring the problem had to be taken. I believe the parallels with Trail are too great to ignore. It is easier to deal with a small problem before it snowballs out of control.
I’ve spoken to the person feeding the birds, the provincial corporate wildlife officer, and several people at city hall. The province claimed it is the city’s responsibility, while City Hall denied any responsibility, citing it as a provincial issue, as there is no bylaw. In correspondence with the province, we were advised: “Pigeons belong to Schedule “C” so you don’t need a hunting permit to kill,” and the city’s advice being to “deal with it yourself”, and the health issues that this causes to locals – young and old – city employees, and even our four legged friends, should locals take the province’s advice and trim our pigeon population? Saying that the city is not responsible is ignorance. So if city hall doesn’t want to deal with it, well, what do you think?
Michelle Forbes, Kimberley