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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

Apparently the university at which I work is trapping pigeons in our parking lot – and the exterminator says they aren’t releasing them but killing them (they said they aren’t releasing them but ‘you know’ – which I can only assume means they’re killing them).

I found a pigeon trap in my parking lot yesterday (Friday Apr. 7). No pigeons were in it – but corn was sprinkled over the top and inside it, there was a dirty empty water bowl, and a sign on the side saying not to re-locate the trap without permission from the company, with a phone number to call. I called and asked the company why they were trapping and they said that pigeons posed human health risks; I think they cited the droppings as a concern. This is, however, a large parking lot with pigeon spikes all over the place and no visible pigeons or droppings – if anything it seemed that the corn would attract pigeons to a location where they are not roosting. I asked the people at the exterminator company who at my university was responsible for hiring the company and they told me to talk to facilities and operations. I’ve left messages with my university’s facilities management office asking if I can speak with them about non-lethal solutions and am waiting to hear back from them.

I was wondering if anyone could help me with what to do in this situation – e.g. with resources (ideally the best most recent academic literature) that explain the extremely low risk posed by pigeons to human health (especially when droppings have not even accumulated), how this concern has been exaggerated, and what the menu of alternative non-lethal management solutions might look like. (Since they already have pigeon spikes – which I do think have been working quite effectively - I was wondering if a sound-deterrent would be a good next step; although I don’t know if those are aversive to humans or other animals other than pigeons). Any help with explaining why this trapping and killing policy is misguided / unnecessary and advocating for non-lethal measures instead (if measures are indeed to be undertaken) would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much,
Howard


PS. Right next to the trap I also found a detached pigeon wing with some bones attached to feathers and a detached pigeon foot. There was, however, no muscle tissue or blood on either the wing or the foot. I was wondering if these body parts could have been severed from rough handling of the pigeons by the exterminators or the pigeons trying to escape, but if this were the case I wouldn’t have expected the body parts to be so devoid of blood or tissue. Perhaps it was a coincidence that these were there, and they were the remains from an old instance of predation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Non-Functional Links in 'The Misconceptions about Pigeons and Disease'

The sticky in this section 'The Misconceptions about Pigeons and Disease' is very helpful, BUT the following links in it fail to direct to the relevant content:

http://pigeonrealm.com/disease
http://www.mad.org/pigeons.htm, and
http://www.downbound.co.uk/Pigeons_s/478.htm

The following were working and were helpful:
http://www.urbanwildlifesociety.org/zoonoses/PijZoonosRskAZ.html
https://www.animalaid.org.uk/the-issues/our-campaigns/wildlife/facts-about-pigeons/
https://www.animalaid.org.uk/the-issues/our-campaigns/wildlife/close-up-on-pigeons/
https://www.animalaid.org.uk/the-issues/our-campaigns/wildlife/case-humane-control-pigeons/

Still, any further resources and help about how to approach my university about this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again,
Howard
 

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Bad links removed.
 

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Peta isn't going to be able to do anything. The problem is when too many pigeons are roosting in one area. But the University does have the right to get rid of them. Unfortunately, they often don't care how they do it. Relocating isn't an option, so finding ways to keep them from roosting there is the only way. Not easy once they have chosen a roosting spot though. Sad.
 

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Howard, can you gradually move them or ask the university to move them? Maybe putting food and gradually moving it elsewhere farther away from where they are unwanted? I feel so sad hearing that people are treating pigeons so badly, when all they want to do is live and raise their young. Agree with Jay3, very sad.
 

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cwebster, if that is where they are roosting, they are not going to move. It's just not that easy. If they are not being fed there, then feeding is not the problem. If they are roosting there, they will not move. Pigeons are very stubborn that way. They don't leave their roosts. Even if they are taken quite a distance away, many will still find their way back. Home is home to them. Things to make it not as appealing to roost there is what is needed, and then they will still try. Yes, I think it's sad, but not many solutions to changing their minds about where they nest. Especially if they have been there for a while.
 

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There are gas stations in our area who try to move the roosts, by moving the nests, youngs, eggs, then they cover the usually flat roofs with a covering. The birds usually relocate to another building. Not ideal because the young and eggs may not be able to relocate but better than just trapping and killing the adults which also kills the young. Am hopeful Howard will be able to negotiate with the administration particularly if there arent that many pigeons there. Many people really love pigeons and they dont carry diseases. What about a petition to encourage the administration to let them be? Am just grasping at straws and trying to brainstorm here. Am very sad, that they are not protected as swallows and some ither species are.
A number of organizations will help circulate a petition. Example:
https://www.thepetitionsite.com/cre...eb2017SAA&z00m=28958911&redirectID=2375868769
Others include ForceChange.com.
Just brainstorming. I would imagine some students who attend classes and teachers and others might see pigeons in a favorable sympathetic light, if they got to know them.
 

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I hate it when they bring in a company to 'remove' the birds. Our local hospital has had 279 (last count) pigeons killed so far, it's been in the news but as they're seen as pests (through ignorance) no one cares. There was also an avenue of magpies there too, on night shifts they looked like Christmas tree decorations but they're all gone now. So sad when you know how intelligent and sweet these birds are. :(
Good luck Howard but don't build your hopes up that your uni will cooperate - sadly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
UPDATES: Pest Control Now Claims No Killing; University Interested in Cote

Hi all,

Thanks so much for your help! I met with the Associate Director of Buildings & Grounds Services about my concerns regrading the pigeon trapping, and the main updates are:


(1) The university director told me that he spoke to the pest control company, and the company assured him that they are NOT trapping and killing but trapping and releasing far off sight. Also they say that the bait is not narcotic / poisoned. I did a follow-up call to the company and this time they've told me that they ARE releasing the trapped birds.

I really wish I could trust the company, but PiCAS suggests that controllers don't really release birds (http://www.picasuk.com/lethal_bird_control.html), and the company has at least been incorrect about their making sure that their traps contain water that is replenished every 48 hours. The trap I found on Friday afternoon still had not been visited by them as of 11 AM the following Tuesday; had any pigeons been trapped on Friday they presumably would have died of dehydration by now (happily this trap, which was found with a dirty empty water dish on Friday, has been inoperative since then, with its entrance blocked by a pillar).


(2) The university director told me that they would be interested in a pigeon cote pilot program, e.g. around the parking lot. He said that he would be interested in seeing a proposal and / or touring an existing pigeon cote if one exists. I'm working with my colleges on developing this.


(3) The university director is trying to get the contraceptive OvoControl P for the pigeons. I told him that this sounded much better than lethal measures, but mentioned the concerns I'd seen from Pigeon Control Advisory Service (http://www.picasuk.com/deterrents_anti_roosting_products.html), including:

"Because of the way that OvoControl P has to be distributed (365 days a year), and because much larger quantities of nicarbazin need to be used in OvoControl P than is used in the treatment of enteritis in commercially farmed birds, pigeons will inevitably lose any natural resistance to fatal diseases such as coccidiosis. In the long term this will result in pigeons becoming highly susceptible to contracting coccidiosis and pigeon flocks will be decimated as a result; urban pigeons will die in their thousands. Because pigeons live in such close proximity to man this represents a very real threat to public health and safety, to say nothing of the welfare implications. Although pigeons do not pass diseases onto humans under normal circumstances, when thousands of birds die of a disease than can affect people as well as pigeons the threat is considerable and cannot be underestimated.

Further welfare concerns have been raised over the potential for OvoControl P to harm the eyes of those birds feeding on the drug. The manufacturer of OvoControl P confirms that the drug will cause "moderate eye irritation" to the human eye, but no mention is made of the effect on the avian eye. Any substance that causes moderate eye irritation in the human eye must have the same effect on the avian eye. Pigeons feed ‘en masse’ and therefore there is a strong probability that the contraceptive bait will come into contact with the eyes of feeding birds. Until issues such as this are resolved and until guarantees are provided by the manufacturer that the drug is safe for pigeons as well as people, support for the drug will inevitably be limited."


I'll keep you posted when I have more updates.

In the mean time I wonder if someone would like to add PiCAS's website (http://www.picasuk.com/) to the sticky here with the resources. I have found them very helpful, and they do have a pretty comprehensive page on debunking myths about pigeons and disease (http://www.picasuk.com/do_birds_spread_diseases.html).

Also here are the references about the ineffectiveness of lethal pigeon management and the lack of risk of disease from pigeons from my letter to the university director:

"Haag-Wackernagel, Daniel. 1992. Regulation of the Street Pigeon in Basel, Wildlife Society Bulletin 23: 256-260.

S. Magnino et al. 2009. Chlamydial infections in feral pigeons in Europe: Review of data and focus on public health implications, Veterinary Microbiology135: 54–67.

Pigeon Control Advisory Service, http://www.picasuk.com.

It is also worth mentioning that health experts have repeatedly confirmed that pigeons pose virtually no health risk to those who are not immunocompromised, and they pose a miniscule risk to the population in general (http://www.picasuk.com/do_birds_spread_diseases.html; Haag-Wackernagel, D. and H. Moch, 2004, Health hazards posed by feral pigeons, Journal of Infection 48, 307–313). For instance, 1500 times more people (264,000) are struck by lightning in a single year than there have been documented cases of pigeon to human disease transmission in the 62-year period spanning 1941-2003 (176)."
 

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I wouldn't trust that they are not killing them. They aren't going to bother releasing them far away, and even if they did, many would find their way back anyway. They do have homing instincts. Ferals have traveled many miles to get home when brought far away.
I think they are just trying to soothe you, and tell you what you want to hear.

OvoControl P has always been known to be a bad choice, and for the reasons mentioned.
 

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Howard, i have the same concerns as Jay3. You really are doing a great job trying to save them. Maybe a pigeon cote would work.
 

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Here in my home town lots of birds would roost at an electric company power plant some birds would get electrocuted and be up high on some towers that couldn't get to them and they would rot up there so the electric company what they did to remove the birds was put some small mirrors hanging in a lot of places about 3inches small they put black flags in some places and they put some fake owls and hawks around and in the mornings and afternoons they would play from loud speakers all sort of birds of pray sounds in the afternoons and in the mornings. Every time you past by you would look due too the sounds but after a few all the birds left and never came back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
UPDATE: No Water in Traps, Checked at > 96 hour intervals

Hi all,

I just wanted to let you know that the trap I'd found in my parking lot on the afternoon of Friday April 7, was re-abled and re-baited with no water whatsoever in the empty dirty water dish, some time between 11 AM on Tuesday April 11 and 6 PM on Wednesday on April 12. So the traps are being left with literally no water, and not checked for at least some time greater than 5 days - making it biologically impossible for any birds caught towards the beginning of the trapping cycle to survive until the trap is checked.

The trap in the parking lot has been disabled again. But I've been told that they have other traps on campus, and I'm concerned that they're doing this with those ones too and will continue to do this with this one in the future. As such, I've complained and asked that the trapping be suspended as we develop a pigeon cote project.

Best,
Howard
 

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Howard, thank you for trying to help the birds. Would probably call Peta now, if it were me, since the company is not acting in good faith, not being truthful, and the birds cant survive. Am sad peopke have such poor regard for living things. Best wishes to you.
 

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I hate when they do that, I am so sorry, I know this must be very frustrating for you. I went through a similar situation at a store's parking lot near my home, the difference was that they put netting to prevent the pigeons from roosting on some pipes that are on the ceiling, but the idiots put up the net and left the pigeons trapped in there! there was no food and water up there for them and when I noticed it (weeks after they had put up the net) some birds had already died from starvation, it was so horrible to see that. I was so upset and frustrated as I didn't know what to do, so I went to Palomacy's facebook group and a lot of wonderful people there helped me!

They complained to the store, to animal control and someone even found out the exterminator company's phone number and they complained to them too! after all the calls they finally put up cages with food and water so that the pigeons would get in them and they could get them out. Of course they said they were not killing them, but releasing them right there in the parking lot, but I don't think that was true. I begged them to give the pigeons to me once they got them out from the net but they refused, but thanks to sooo many people we were able to save around 15 and released them somewhere else.

Anyway, my advice is call animal control and tell them that they are putting cages without food and water and how inhumane it is to kill animals that way, try to find out who the exterminators are and give animal control their contact info and also take pictures of everything you see.

Thank you so much for trying to help these birds!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
UPDATE: Trap Removed; Debunking Myths, Proposing Cote

Hi all,

Thanks again so much for your help with this. Here are the main updates:

(1) I told our university director about the lack of water in the traps and he told me he would "review the traps on campus and remove the ones that have no activities." The next day the trap in my parking lot was removed. I've checked since then and it hasn't been returned or moved to a different location in the parking lot.


(2) The director sent me what he took to be evidence that pigeons pose human health risks. Here is my response explaining how what he sent me contains no such evidence but in fact statements to the effect that pigeons pose a negligible health risk:

<<Begin my response>>
Hi,

Thanks very much for this - but I think that you're mistaken about any of these contradicting the information that I sent you.

First of all, the NYC page statement appears to be one of the inputs to the PiCAS statement that "The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, the New York City Department of Health, and the Arizona Department of Health all agree that diseases associated with pigeons present little risk to people." If you look at the NYC page, it actually says:

"Cryptococcosis is another fungal disease associated with pigeon droppings and also grows in soils throughout the world. It is very unlikely that healthy people will become infected even at high levels of exposure."

"Most people, however, do not show any symptoms [of Histoplasmosis]."

"Since 1996, fewer than 50 confirmed cases [of Psittacosis] were reported in the United States annually. In New York City, psittacosis is very rare with less than one human case identified each year. According to the CDC, about 70% of infected people had contact with infected pet birds. Those at greatest risk include bird owners, pet shop employees, veterinarians, and people with compromised immune systems. No person-to-person cases have ever been reported."


Similar findings are reported in the Illinois page, if you look at what it actually says:

" Health risks from birds and bats are often exaggerated."

"The soil under a roost usually has to have been enriched by droppings for two years or more for [Histoplasmosis] organism to reach significant levels....Most infections are mild and produce either no symptoms"

"Outbreaks (multiple cases at a location) of cryptococcosis infections have not been documented."


I will look more carefully at the WHO book, but so far I am finding absolutely no rival estimates to the ones I gave you from the systematic study which found only 176 documented cases of pigeon to human disease transmissions in the entire 62 year period spanning 1941-2003. Again, 1500 times more people (264,000) are struck by lightning in a single year than there have been instances of these documented cases. I am attaching this again. I fear that you have sent me absolutely nothing that challenges this finding that the risk to human health is absolutely negligible. So I'm sorry, but from what you've sent me and what I've been able to find this is simply NOT a case where there are two sides; there is evidence showing that pigeons pose a negligible risk to human health, and no evidence to the contrary.

Best,
Howard
<<End my response>>


<<Begin director's initial e-mail>>
Howard I have attached a few links and a document from the WHO that is contrary to your information. As you know there is always two sides to a story and one will always be different from the other. I can only go by what is presented to us.
Cheers

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/pigeon.page


http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/hb/hbb&bdrp.htm

Preview attachment Public health significance of Urban pests - Book.pdf

PDF
Public health significance of Urban pests - Book.pdf
3.4 MB

https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/pigeon.page
<<End director's initial e-mail>>


(3) My colleague and I are looking into working up a proposal for a pigeon cote. As to the noise and light deterrents - that's great if others have had luck with them, but PiCAS reports that they're generally ineffective (see http://www.picasuk.com/deterrents_anti_roosting_products.html).
 

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Yes, you certainly get an A+ for effort. Good for you!
 

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The university is certainly misguided for thinking the pigeons pose health risks, etc; however, unfortunately pigeons are not protected and can in almost any circumstances be eradicated by property owners. You basically have to eat pigeon poop or snort the dust to get sick from them, and, even then, unless you have a weakened immune system, what you could get wouldn't even be life threatening, more like being sick and on the crapper for a week or so lol.

Most exterminators would happily live trap a pest, but, unfortunately for us pigeon lovers, pigeons are usually the only exception since they will just home back to where they came from, and unfortunately must be humanely killed. Being a pigeon owner, that is sad, but what can you do? Perhaps offer to drive them 500+ miles away if you are willing to do that. Are you? Or you can offer to just take them and promise to keep them in a loft, never let the original adults fly, and only fly the offspring. Are you willing to do that?
 
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