Pigeons damaging bridge to be shot

CHE BAKER IN ALEXANDRA
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2012
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The NZ Transport Agency is resorting to shooting feral pigeons that are damaging the Alexandra bridge.

During the next few weeks the agency plans to reduce the estimated 400 feral pigeons, which are corroding the structural steel on the bridge with their excrement, through night shooting.

Agency senior asset manager John Jarvis said several options have been explored to eradicate the pigeons, including a baiting option, which did not proceed following an unsuccessful trial in the winter.

While the damage was not an immediate safety risk, action was needed to reduce pigeon numbers so damaged areas of the bridge can be repaired. The pigeons' disease-carrying excrement that lands on the bridge walkway also posed a health risk and the agency was regularly having to pay to have it cleaned up.

"After further discussion with various stakeholders, including the local police and SPCA, it has been decided that night-time shooting in a safe and controlled way would be the most effective method of managing the growing feral pigeon population at the bridge," Mr Jarvis said.

"Night shooting was successfully used to control pigeons at the bridge about 25 years ago."

The work will involve experienced pest contractors undertaking controlled night shooting using air rifles with silencers and night-vision sights to ensure the feral pigeons can be safely targeted and eradicated.

The plan for this work has been approved by police.

Shooting will take place below the bridge deck, where most of the pigeons roost, and the area will be tightly controlled so people or vehicles did not pass over the bridge while the shooting takes place, Mr Jarvis said.

The work could take several weeks and, depending on the success of the operation, it was possible further work would be required in about 12 months' time.

che.baker@stl.co.nz

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