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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Pigeons prove valuable bounty
Hunter shooting pigeon
Pigeon 'bounty hunters' shoots 3000 pigeons a year
Pigeons are considered to be dirty disease carriers and a threat to crops by some but by others as feathered friends with which to share a sandwich.

Efforts to solve the pigeon problem range from shooting them to training human beings to control their litter and make city centres unwelcoming to pigeons.

The 18 million wood pigeons in the UK pose a threat to farmers because each can eat 64 pounds of food per year.

Despite the problems the birds can cause, shooting them has not been a popular solution with the public.

Bounty hunter

Despite public disquiet at the method, at least one good shot has made a living removing pigeons from the landscape.

Modern day bounty hunter Geoff Garrod does not look for wanted criminals; he tracks and shoots pigeons.

In an average year, Mr Garrod said, one person can shoot 2500 to 3000 pigeons and he says shooting them is "the only effective way we have of dealing with them".

The dead pigeons bring a price of ten pence each and most will end up in European restaurants.

Hawk stalks Microsoft pigeons
A Haris Hawk stalks Microsoft pigeons in Cambriidge

Another eradication method at work in the UK is the use of larger predatory birds.

Pigeons which plague the Microsoft HQ in Cambridge are kept under control by the use of a three-year-old American Harris Hawk.

Shandy does not kill the pigeons, but they realise the predator is on patrol and leave the area.

Dirty birds

Brian Smith has calculated that he cleans a ton of feral pigeon droppings each year from a Lowestoft street.

Many people consider pigeons dirty; they can carry diseases such as Chiamdiosis and Psittacosis, which are viruses similar to influenza and pneumonia.

But Guy Merchant, director of the Pigeon Control Advisory Service, said people can help reduce the problem by throwing fast food into bins provided at dedicated feed stations.

"Then they can actually feed the birds as they wish without creating other problems outside," he said.


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See also:

10 Jun 02 | N Ireland
19 Jan 02 | England
19 Jan 01 | UK
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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