No poisoning the pigeons |

No poisoning the pigeons

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The City Council does not support allowing private pest control companies to poison pigeons.

City Manager Jeff Hecksel kicked off a discussion on the matter Thursday, saying: “The question at hand is whether or not to amend the city’s cruelty to animals ordinance to allow private vendors to poison pigeons.”

He said the city has no intention of poisoning pigeons itself. By the end of the discussion, a few city council members said they were against allowing poison, and none said they would support it.

In April, a pest control company asked the city if it would consider changing or re-interpreting its cruelty to animals ordinance to allow companies to poison pigeons with Avitrol. A letter from the company said pest management companies have been getting “many calls about the great number of pigeons in town.” It said pigeon droppings can carry diseases and damage buildings or other structures because they’re very acidic, and poison would be a way to better help its clients.

The city staff determined poisoning pigeons violates the city’s cruelty to animals ordinance. The ordinance says it’s illegal to poison animals unless an animal owner decides to euthanize animals for health and safety.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Councilman Russ Arensman questioned whether the city should extend its authority over pigeons.

“I think it’s a very relevant question,” Arensman said. “Where do we stop? If we regulate the pigeons here do we go after squirrels and the Canada geese?”

Hecksel said later that, although the city has undertaken some efforts to protect public property from pigeons, the city can’t install pigeon mitigation devices on private property.

When devices like spike strips are installed in one place, pigeons usually just relocate to a nearby location.

Mayor Bruce Christensen said he has very serious concerns about changing the ordinance to allow poisoning pigeons. He said there’s no way to poison only pigeons without poisoning other species, and poisoning them could create additional complaints.

“When we have flopping around, dying birds on the streets of Glenwood, we’re going to have complaints about pigeons,” he said.

Councilwoman Kris Chadwick said she wonders how bad the pigeon problem will get by 2020 if nothing is done to address it now. She said she used spike strips on a downtown building but pigeons quickly built two new nests nearby.

“The pigeons procreate profusely,” she said. “It’s unbelievable how many offspring they have.”

But she expressed concern that poison could get into the rivers near Glenwood. She said she doesn’t support allowing poison and believes alternative methods should be used.

Arensman agreed and said children could accidentally ingest poison meant for pigeons. Christensen said he also would encourage other methods to control pigeons before giving a blanket authorization for private companies to poison them.

Council members pondered the idea of stepping up enforcement of ordinances prohibiting feeding pigeons, and in particular cited one elderly lady who’s been known to feed them, but the idea didn’t seem to receive support. And it raised questions about how much effect preventing one or a few people from feeding pigeons would have on the overall problem.

Support Local Journalism