The lethal control of birds is prohibited under the The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 unless the species concerned is listed under the relevant section of the Act. Although specific licences are required for some methods of lethal control, such as the use of stupefying baits, the most commonly controlled species of pest birds (such as the feral pigeon) are allowed to be killed under a General Licence. This means that providing an ‘authorised person’ undertakes the culling and providing that the culling is undertaken in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the General Licence, a specific application to kill is not required. All licences are issued and overseen by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) including the General Licence.
Lethal control has been used as a ‘quick-fix’ means of reducing pigeon numbers for as long as there has been a need to control the species. The pest control industry has historically recommended lethal controls alongside the provision of anti-perching and bird exclusion products in an effort to maximise relief for those experiencing pigeon-related problems. Although the installation of anti-perching products (and some bird exclusion products) will resolve a vast majority of pigeon-related problems without the need for additional controls, many pest control companies still recommend lethal control either as a complementary service or as a stand-alone control.
Based on the evidence that culled birds are replaced within a matter of weeks following a cull, culling cannot be used, under any circumstances, to reduce flock size in anything other than the short-term. If a property owner is expected to undertake a cull every few weeks in order to protect his/her property, the cost of the service would be prohibitive. Even in light of these facts, culling is still widely recommended and used by the pest control industry as a method of control. The following methods are commonly used to cull pigeons:
Cage Trap for Killing Pigeons
A suitable area is identified in which to site the trap that is easy to access for the pest control contractor and which is considered to be in an area of high pigeon activity. Other criteria, such as finding a site that is not overlooked, is equally important as the general public find the sight of trapped birds extremely distressing. The cage trap is then baited with pigeon corn for approximately 7 days, allowing pigeons’ free access to enter the trap, feed and then exit the trap. This process is designed to make the birds feel safe whilst feeding within the trap so that after 7 days when the trap is set, the maximum number of birds will be caught. The trap has a two-way door which, when set, allows the pigeon to enter the trap but not to exit it. The trap is then visited once a day and any birds within the trap are removed and either killed on the site or removed live, normally in a sack and taken away to be gassed.
Cage trapping is also highly labour intensive, resulting in higher costs to the client due to the fact that the law states that as a minimum, cage traps must be inspected once every 24 hours. Although the law is quite clear on this point, not all contractors comply with this legislation and empty their traps every 24 hours. If the contractor fails to inspect and empty their traps every 24 hours they run the risk of prosecution, as does the client upon whose site the traps are located. There is also a legal requirement to provide food and water in cage traps but again, not all contractors comply with this aspect of the legislation.
Rifle Used for Killing Pigeons
Shooting operations are normally undertaken at night with daytime shoots only being used in agricultural applications or for specialised urban applications. In urban applications, pigeons are usually shot at night and in their roosting sites because the birds are unable to fly away when the shooting starts, as they would if shoots were undertaken in daylight hours. The major problem inherent with shooting operations is the inability of the shooter to recover and dispatch injured birds. It is virtually impossible to kill a pigeon outright with an air weapon and therefore a majority of birds are simply shot and injured. Because pigeons normally roost at height and because when shot, a pigeon will be pushed backwards with the impact of the pellet entering the body, very few injured pigeons actually fall to the ground. This means that injured birds cannot be dispatched humanely, as is required by law, to prevent suffering taking place, rendering this method of lethal control inhumane. A pigeon can survive for weeks with a pellet lodged in its body and will suffer a slow and lingering death as a result. Also, in situations where a majority of the seriously injured birds cannot be humanely dispatched, the property owner upon who’s site the shooting has taken place will inevitably experience unpleasant smells and maggot infestations as birds die in their roosting places.
About Pigeon Patrol:
Pigeon Patrol Products & Services is the leading manufacturer and distributor of bird deterrent (control) products in Canada. Pigeon Patrol products have solved pest bird problems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings since 2000, by using safe and humane bird deterrents with only bird and animal friendly solutions. At Pigeon Patrol, we manufacture and offer a variety of bird deterrents, ranging from Ultra-flex Bird Spikes with UV protection, Bird Netting, 4-S Gel and the best Ultrasonic and audible sound devices on the market today.
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