Feral PigeonWhile I have many varied interests, there are very few things I am passionate about. Pigeon welfare issues are guaranteed to set me off.

This morning I was browsing the BBC News website and came across this article:

Falconers are being asked to bid for a £40,000 contract to rid the Scottish Parliament of pigeons.”

The plan is to use birds of prey to deter pigeons from residing in the grounds of the Scottish Parliament buildings. Spluttering with rage, I put my bowl of porridge down and contacted both the Parliament itself and my MSP. My objections are simple.

  • Pigeons are actually quite nice, and are deserving of compassion
  • Birds of prey are an ineffective deterrent
  • The birds can and will kill the pigeons, effectively making the Parliament a site for bloodsports

I know I’m repeating myself, but this is important to me.

Pigeons are lovely birds. They are charming and friendly and contrary to urban myth they do not spread huge numbers of diseases to humans. If you are running around one of their nesting sites, inhaling their dried guano, then yes you will probably catch something. But walking through a city or town, pigeons present no risk.

However, people will be people, and will wish to eradicate pigeons should their numbers become too great.

Using birds of prey is nothing more than a temporary deterrent. The pigeons will always regroup and always return. It is also unfair to assume that this is a cruelty-free way of deterring pigeons – birds of prey are predators and they will kill the pigeons. And, like any cull, it will not make a slight bit of difference to pigeon population numbers.

When an animal can breed as prolifically as pigeons do, you cannot cull them fast enough. Initially, there will be a drop in their numbers and to fill this gap, the pigeons will over-breed.

The best way to control pigeon numbers is to:

  • deny them access to potential nesting sites
  • to find known nesting sites are remove their eggs
  • to reduce their food supply by preventing the public from feeding them, and by managing litter

Three very simple, painless and humane ways that would allow pigeons and humans to mutually exist.

I can only hope that the Scottish Parliament takes my concerns seriously.

Within half an hour of sending my email, my MSP was back in touch with the following:

“Thank you for your e-mail. I confess to being surprised when I saw the item on the news as the matter has never been raised with MSPs. I personally do not have any objection to the pigeons around the parliament.”

She has since forwarded my concerns to the Parliament’s Corporate Body, and I am due to expect a reply in the post. I doubt that they will change their mind, and just perceive me as a lone nutter, but I have to try and do something. I am not some woolly-minded hippy. Culling does have it’s place with some species, to preserve the biodiversity of an area. It’s just wrong for pigeons to be treated so badly – they should be valued as an important part of our urban environment.

I just hope there are a few more people who feel the way I do.

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