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Old 12-11-2001, 15:44:35   #1
Resource Consumer
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The Great Pigeon Hunt - I couldn't let this one go

They are pruning threads at my local community forum and I couldn't bear to lose this letter from Hounslow Council to a compainant about the pigeons. I posted it on another foorum once so apologies to those that have seen it before.

I finally got a response from the Council which though was not what I hope for, at least showed they were attempting to tackle the problem. Apologies for the length of this message but there was lots of interesting stuff in the e-mail.

Received from John James Environmental Services (abridged)

Dear Mr Pryce

We are of course aware of the judgement that the London Borough of Wandsworth achieved in respect of the bridge in their area against Railtrack. We also understand that Railtrack have lodged an appeal and that the hearing is due in June 2001. All London Boroughs agreed to contribute towards this test case and the final outcome is eagerly awaited.

The bridge at Turnham Green though not perfect is not too bad in terms of nuisance due to the pigeons. Certainly it has been worse in the past and is nowhere near as bad as once the bridge over Fishers lane used to be.

To be fair to London Underground they have carried out some proofing works to the bridge although more needs to be done and some of the existing proofing work requires repair or replacement.

We do have worse bridges in the borough and we do have other areas in the borough where we believe the pigeon problem is of a higher priority than Turnham Green.

The Pest Control Business unit is not provided with any express funding to deal with pigeons and whereas there is a statutory duty upon Councils to ensure that landowners deal with rats on their land I do not think there is any similar duty imposed in respect of pigeons. That said Mr Bull has been working upon a Pigeon Strategy which he is in the process of launching which will include for portraying the pigeon as a "sky rat".

The perceived wisdom in respect of pigeon control seems to be that no long lasting improvement will be achieved unless the food supply is cut off or at least reduced.

To stop people feeding pigeons the pigeon strategy will include for the display of posters and the handing out of leaflets to try to educate and persuade people to stop engaging in an activity from which they obviously get a good deal of enjoyment out of.

It is very difficult for us to catch those residents who feed the pigeons on a regular and sustained basis. Those that feed at a set time and in a set place and are co-operative are the easiest to deal with but those that feed at irregular times in different places present us with a special challenge. Some of the former types become the later once we have spoken to them and they can be quite crafty or devious in their attempts to feed the birds that almost seem to become pets to them.

In respect of Turnham Green Bridge we consulted local shop keepers; staff at the underground station and the flower seller and to our amazement nobody was able to identify a time when the pigeon feeding was going on except for the flower seller who thought that a lady fed the birds early in the morning at about 06:30 - outside of normal office hours. A number of visits were made at this time but to no avail and officers continued to monitor the area during normal office hours.

In recent weeks we have been successful, at least in the short term, of catching two women who were in the habit of feeding large quantities of bread to the birds - one was caught feeding 7 (!) large supermarket bag loads of bread to the pigeons. A letter was sent to her home address and for the time being at least she seems to have stopped. Another officer dealing with a completely different matter in the Chiswick area happened to be told of a lady who at 15:00 hrs every day came out of the "Spar" grocer next to the bridge to feed the pigeons large quantities of bread. It was thought that she was an employee at the shop or even the owner. Several visits to the area did not reveal this person and so the owner of the shop was approached. He indicated that he was aware of the person but that she was a customer rather than an employee and a message was left for this lady asking her to stop feeding the birds. We are informed that she has stopped feeding the pigeons.

During our surveillance of the area a large number of individuals have been caught feeding the pigeons with bread; chips; kebabs; rice; cakes of various types and sizes but they have all insisted that it was a one off event rather than out of any habit. You will wish to be aware that not all people think it is a crime to feed pigeons and some people enjoy having the birds around even when the associated filth is pointed out to them.

Officers have noticed that whenever a man in a light coloured jacket walks past they flock down to the ground from neighbouring structures and from this we assume that there is at least one other person, probably a man in a ;light coloured jacket, who we have not yet had the opportunity of trying to dissuade from feeding the pigeons.

If you have any information as to who and when a resident is feeding the birds or better still an address please let us know and we would be pleased to follow up.

As well as trying to stop the bird feeding we have also been trying to get the pavements and the bridge cleaned.

On Friday 2nd February 2001 Rebecca Behrendt ( ext. 5070), Principal Community Environment Officer agreed to having the pavements cleaned using a high pressure chemical washer safe enough for the wash to go down the nearest drain.

In addition I have been in contact with London Underground to see if they are prepared to carry out any work in advance of the Railtrack appeal decision given that they have in the past carried out proofing work and cleaned their structure at our request and have not adopted the attitude of Railtrack.

To be honest I have been given a bit of a run around so far and have spoken to about 5 people all of whom I have been told can make a decision only to told to phone someone else. At the time of writing I am awaiting a return call from a Mr Danny Mendis ( 0207 918 7206) who I hope will be able to help me.

Given the above I hope you will agree that some action has been taken in respect of your complaint even though it is of a low priority both in terms of pigeon nuisance and in terms of all the other work we are asked to complete.

We are aware that a Dutch women in her twenties died from pigeon lung last year, the first recorded death attributed to inhaling fumes from pigeon droppings, and that a recent outbreak of E.Coli in a Swansea prison was traced back to roosting pigeons. We are aware that pigeon droppings can be slippery but pigeon control remains a sensitive issue for some bird and animal lovers. We have also found that some of the persons feeding birds in Hounslow probably do not even live in our borough.

With the London Mayor trying to stop bird feeding in Trafalgar Square this problem is enjoying an even higher profile than normal. Whereas in the distant past the Council would have arranged a cull of the birds the perceived wisdom is now to try to cut off the food supply to achieve a lasting solution and not to prompt a public outcry about animal cruelty. This we have been attempting to do. We understand that the Tidy Britain Group supports this method of controlling birds and our soon to be launched pigeon strategy will seek to educate the public. We need the support of the public and if there is anything you can do to assist please let us know.

Turnham Green enjoys many takeaway food establishments and many are open late at night. There is only so much we can achieve in respect of stopping the one off pigeon feeding episode in terms of an officers presence, especially outside of normal office hours given out limited overtime budgets and so we must seek to try to educate the public that feeding the pigeons is as socially acceptable as feeding the rats and that feeding the pigeons also contributes to the rat problem.

Some of the characters that are found to be feeding the birds do so out of love for the birds and even for religious reasons. Some bird feeders deny themselves even basic necessities so they can feed their birds and it is not an easy problem for officers to deal with.

As soon as I hear from Mr Mendis at the District Line I will update you further.

John Jones

Last edited by Resource Consumer; 12-11-2001 at 15:49:29.
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Old 12-11-2001, 15:46:19   #2
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Bloody hell; that goes on a bit. Mr Jones needs to get out more.
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Old 12-11-2001, 15:48:25   #3
Resource Consumer
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I think I'd better highlight the rel;evant areas - I didn't realise it was quite that long.
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Old 12-11-2001, 15:52:55   #4
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I volunteer to machinegun the pigeons out of the skies.
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Old 12-11-2001, 16:08:04   #5
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Old 12-11-2001, 20:38:30   #6
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Loved it the first time and I still like it.
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Old 13-11-2001, 08:00:30   #7
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That is brilliant.
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