Birth control for pigeons

Pigeon overpopulation is a worldwide issue Credit: Pixabay: Couleur

The scale of the pigeon overpopulation issue is staggering, with an estimated 260 to 400 million pigeons inhabiting every continent on the planet, except Antarctica.

The implications of pigeon overpopulation are not just a minor inconvenience but a significant hazard. Pigeons, notorious for littering from bin bags and defacing monuments, buildings, cars, and even people, can also become aggressive if regularly fed, posing a threat to public safety.

As a result, scientists are actively exploring a potential solution to the pigeon overpopulation issue. Their proposed method involves administering contraceptives to manage the population humanely. This approach will be discussed at a meeting at York University this month.

According to Dr Giovanna Massei, Europe Director, Botstiber Institute of Wildlife Fertility Control and Professor at the University of York, “This problem will only worsen over the coming years and poses a critical ecological issue around the world.”

Do pigeons need to be culled?

With pigeons said to reproduce up to eight times a year and have a life expectancy of five years, it is no surprise that this issue has arisen. This is not the first time, as in 2017, Barcelona became the first European capital to turn to birth control to cull the growing pigeon population in the city.

They administered Nicarbazin via automatic bird feeders scattered around the city and monitored the results over a three-year period.

Overall, the drug was deemed successful, with some colonies reduced by as much as 55 per cent.  However, others appeared completely unaffected, and analysts believed this was largely due to human involvement.

For the drug to work effectively, pigeons must consume it consistently over time.  Missing just a few days can reverse the drugs effects, and it is believed that this happens in situations where alternative food is offered.

Last year, Toronto, too, reached its limits with the pigeons and deployed Nicarbazin via four automatic bird feeders around the city.  This pilot programme aims to reduce the city’s pigeon population by 50 per cent annually, and initial results will be released at the end of summer.

Wildlife management

It seems that pigeons are not the only animals on the agenda for the June conference. Experts worldwide will also discuss how best to limit the number of grey squirrels, wild boar, deer, feral goats, rats and other wildlife.

Dr Massei explained, “In the modern world, there are so many conflicts between people and wild creatures, but there is no consensus on how best to manage wildlife numbers.” She added, “Fertility control, alone or combined with traditional methods, could provide solutions.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!