Pismo poised to deport pigeons
Pismo poised to deport pigeons
Sending birds to Cuyama ‘ humane’
By April Charlton/Senior Staff Writer
The estimated 400 pigeons that flock to Pismo Pier every day looking for free food won’t become food for the animals at Zoo to You in Paso Robles.
In July, the Pismo Beach City Council unanimously directed city staff to solicit bids for a trap-and-kill eradication program to deal with the pier’s burgeoning pigeon population.
http://tinyurl.com/2qdkoyAt that time, the proposal was to hire a pest control company to trap and kill pigeons at the pier and provide their carcasses to Zoo to You to feed to its animals.
However, during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the council voted 3-2 to use nonlethal means to deal with the pigeon problem, opting to direct staff to negotiate a contract with the Humane Pigeon Relocation Group for the birds’ removal from the pier.
The contract is to not exceed $30,000.
The Humane Pigeon Relocation Group is based in Santa Maria and proposes removing the pigeons, as well as their eggs and nests, by hand from the pier during the evening hours and relocating them more than 50 miles southeast to Cuyama.
After the majority of the birds are removed from the pier — they roost under the wooden structure — the Relocation Group plans to also put wire netting under it so a new bird population can’t roost there.
Council members Bill Rabenaldt and Kris Vardas dissented in the decision that came after a 2 1/2-hour public hearing filled with emotional public testimony and debate among the council members.
Vardas said the council needs to give a newly enacted ordinance banning bird feeding at the pier and in the adjacent pier plaza an opportunity to work before beginning a program to remove the pigeons.
“Come this fall, if we don’t see results, then we need to trap and remove (the pigeons) in a humane manner,” Vardas said.
The City Council adopted the no-feeding ordinance in late June after dealing with ongoing water quality issues south of the pier that some believe is caused, in part, by pigeon feces.
Since mid-May there have been numerous health advisories posted near the pier warning people to avoid contact with the water there because of elevated levels of bacteria.
The no-feeding ordinance took effect July 19 and carries a $100 fine for the first violation. No one has been cited since the ordinance went into effect, according to the Police Department.
Rabenaldt dissented for various reasons, one being that he believes the council needs to take a hard-line stance to deal with the pigeons.
“My heart and soul tells me that eradication is the right program because (the pigeons) aren’t native; they were introduced (to the area),” Rabenaldt said.
The Humane Pigeon Relocation Group has proposed charging the city $5,000 a month for six months to rid the pier of the current pigeon population, bringing it down to between 50 and 25 birds.
Some people in the audience criticized the city for considering spending thousands of taxpayer dollars to abate the pigeons when no one knows if the birds are the true cause of water pollution near the pier.
“Forty thousand dollars is a lot of money to gamble when we don’t have all the facts,” Jennifer Blonder, a Pismo resident, surfer and member of the local Surfrider chapter, told the council.
The Surfrider Foundation believes the city has taken a step in the right direction adopting the no-feeding ordinance but doesn’t back the proposed relocation program, Blonder said.
The relocation group guarantees its work, and if the nonlethal pigeon relocation program doesn’t work, the city doesn’t have to pay, according to Public Works Director Dennis Delzeit.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Delzeit said.
Staff will evaluate the effectiveness of the relocation program 60 days after it begins. If the program isn’t working, the contract will be terminated.
The council also directed staff to investigate hiring a firm that specializes in high-temperature pressure washing to clean the pier.
Staff stopped pressure washing the pier earlier this year because every time that the structure was cleaned, a health advisory was issued shortly