Pigeons outstay welcome

IAN ALLEN AND CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:07 22/04/2013
pigeons
Derek Flynn

Taking to the skies: Hundreds of pigeons above central Blenheim when they are disturbed from their roosts on top of the Floor Pride Marlborough Civic Theatre in Arthur St. Complaints are being made about the mess they make and the mites the birds carry.

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Pigeons are like other pests such as rodents, and building owners should treat them as they would a rodent infestation if numbers get too high, the Marlborough District Council says.

The Marlborough Express has received several calls from people complaining about high numbers of pigeons in the central business district, where the birds like to roost on high buildings. Complaints were about the mess the birds made and the mites they carried, which then infested offices.

Council environmental science and monitoring manger Alan Johnson said pigeons were not classified as a pest by the council.

Rather, they had nuisance value, he said.

People having pigeon problems should approach building owners or their landlords to have the problem resolved, as landlords would for infestations of spiders, insects, rats or other rodents.

People did not need a resource consent to carry out culls, but they did need to follow pesticide regulations and to be "neighbourly", Mr Johnson said.

That was where problems could occur, with people who liked pigeons objecting to that. Mr Johnson said he could not recall a pigeon cull in Blenheim.

One Blenheim building badly affected by large numbers of roosting pigeons was the Floor Pride Marlborough Civic Theatre complex, which also houses Noel Leeming and Number One Shoes.

Civic Theatre Trust chairman Kevin Moseley said they had to re-roof the Arthur St building about six years ago at a cost of $300,000.

Pigeons roosted around air conditioning units, dropping waste in areas that could not be reached for cleaning, Mr Moseley said.

The waste became like "battery acid" and rotted through the roof, he said.

"You could smell it [from inside the theatre] and staff were getting sick. They [pigeons] are a damn nuisance."

The trust looked at all options, including culling the birds through poisoning, he said.

"It wouldn't have been a good look to have dead pigeons around town."

Another Blenheim building affected by roosting pigeons is the Porse building at the corner of Market and Alfred streets.

The building is owned by Marlborough construction company T H Barnes.

Chief executive John Smithies said they hired a pest control company at least twice a year to cull pigeons. They even put a scarecrow on the roof to frighten off the birds.

"We take all the precautions possible, short of putting somebody on the roof with a shotgun," he said.

Pest controllers also took care of the resulting mite problem by fum igating the roof space, he said.

Dealing with their waste was a headache, but it had to be done.

"It's ongoing and part of our maintenance programme. We have to make sure we are providing a healthy environment for our tenants."

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- The Marlborough Express

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