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Last Updated: Friday May 02 2008 16:42 GMT

Feeding the birds banned in Italy

Pigeons in Venice

Feeding the birds has been banned in an ancient square in Italy to protect its buildings from pigeon poo.

Tourists have been buying grain to feed pigeons in St Mark's Square for years, but now officials are worried their droppings are damaging local buildings.

Around 40,000 of the birds flap through the square every day, but now anyone caught feeding them faces huge fines of anything from 40 to 400!

Sellers of the pigeon feed aren't happy as the ban means they're out of a job.

But officials say the pigeons are also eating away at the city's marble statues and buildings by pecking at small gaps in them to reach scraps of food that have been blown inside.

It's thought cleaning up the mess created by the pigeons costs thousands of pounds a year.