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Pigeon problem? You're on your own

Pigeon problem? You're on your own

A pigeon purge in Ashburton’s CBD is not on the council’s agenda.

Ashburton Event Centre general manager, Roger Farr, aired frustration at the financial burden of cleaning up after the pigeons and believes others in the CBD will feel the same with an opportunity for a combined effort to better control pigeons.

Ashburton District Council compliance and development group manager, Jane Donaldson, said the council had already led such an effort and successfully reduced the pigeon population.

Donaldson said that in 2014 the council was approached by local businesses, including the event centre, concerned with feral pigeons fouling buildings.

“Although pest control is not technically one of our official functions, we agreed to co-ordinate arrangements to control pigeons on behalf of those business operators in the CBD, who agreed to be part of the initiative,” Donaldson said.

“The arrangements set in place involved a pest control contractor caging and relocating some 2300 pigeons.

“At the end of those arrangements, various businesses entered into their own agreements with pest control contractors for onward pigeon proofing and control of their own buildings.”

Those individual efforts have kept the pigeon population in check, Donaldson said.

“Currently, the overall population of pigeons is much lower than at various other times over the past few years.”

Pigeons are not declared pests in the Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan 2018 – 2038, which means there are no statutory responsibilities for anyone to control pigeons.

Because of that, and the previous work to reduce the population, the council does not see it necessary to intervene again.

“It is considered that the reduced number of pigeons currently seen in the CBD does not justify the need or cost for a further unified approach while businesses continue to address proofing and control of their own buildings and periodic work to control numbers continues.”

The council is undertaking its own prevention and control methods at the new $56.75 million library, Te Pātaka a kā Tuhituhi, and civic centre, Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka.

The council is using laser lights during the construction phase of the project, Donaldson said, while “various options and technology used for pigeon control and proofing is being investigated”.

Pigeon droppings and feathers can carry a variety of diseases, and the droppings can corrode and damage surfaces, and their nests can clog gutters and drains.

  • By Jonathan Leask