Hawking ""ineffective"" way to deal with pigeons say experts

PUBLISHED: 18:08 10 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 11 May 2010

Geraint Burnell

Geraint Burnell

ROYSTON First will consider the fears of experts who believe hawking is an ineffective means of controlling the town s pigeon population. The Pigeon Control Advisory Service (PiCAS) has issued a statement following the report in The Crow last week that

ROYSTON First will consider the fears of experts who believe hawking is an "ineffective" means of controlling the town's pigeon population.

The Pigeon Control Advisory Service (PiCAS) has issued a statement following the report in The Crow last week that birds of prey will be used as part of measures to control the amount of pigeons roosting in Royston, in a joint scheme funded by North Herts District Council and the Royston First business improvement district (BID) company.

Emma Haskell, Director of PiCAS, sad: "Unfortunately whether being used as a standalone control or as part of a pigeon control strategy, the hawking element of the programme will be completely ineffective in both deterring pigeons and reducing numbers.

"Unless the bird of prey was flown over the town centre 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the pigeons' homing instinct will take over and they'll be back to their roosts the second the hawk has gone.

"Furthermore most contractors use Harris Hawks as the favoured control option. The Harris Hawk is not the natural predator of the pigeon and is much slower in flight and therefore the bird poses no threat whatsoever," she said.

Ms Haskell added that her organisation held discussions with the district council, and Royston's town centre management committee, last year about suitable control methods.

She added: "Sadly the authority has taken commercially biased advice from a pest control company that has a vested interest in selling their services."

Geraint Burnell, Royston's town centre manager, said: "Having now had these issues brought to our attention, we will include their views into our deliberations.

"Given that we will be spending district council and BID money, we will be endeavouring to ascertain which of the competing approaches will provide the most effective solution within our budget.

"One thing I'm confident of is that we will be minded to invest every penny in direct action and not in reports and consultancy," he said.

Mr Burnell said that PiCAS contacted him last year when the issue of controlling the pigeons using birth control became a talking point.

He said: "At the time we took on board the advice regarding the potential detrimental impact of laced food on the wild bird population.

"The only topic of conversation was pigeon fertility and I don't remember any discussion of hawking. Maybe the subject came up - but it was a long time ago and since then we've been a bit busy."

Last week, the district council's Royston area committee agreed to part-fund a pigeon control scheme with Royston First.

The area committee will provide over £2,000 to fund measures including hawking, clearing nests, and pigeon proofing of buildings.

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