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‘NUISANCE’ PIGEONS TO BE CULLED BY ALEX CAMPBELL

alex.campbell@thesentinel.co.uk

THOUSANDS of pigeons are to be culled in Hanley in an attempt to clean up the city centre. A special team will exterminate the birds in the streets surrounding The Potteries Shopping Centre as part of plans to attract shoppers. Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it had taken expert advice which said that up to 15,000 pigeons are roosting in Hanley, fouling pavements and potentially spreading diseases. Contractors will be hired to catch the birds in live traps before they are “humanely dispatched”. Martin Scott, landlord of The Tontine and the Burton Stores, believes the pigeon population in the city centre is on the rise. The 34-year-old said: “One idea would be to introduce more signs encouraging people not to feed them.” Pigeon fancier Nigel Moss, aged 45, of Queen Street, Audley, said care must be taken to avoid culling prime racing pigeons, some worth thousands, which get lost among the city centre flocks. The father-of-four, who keeps 50 pigeons, said: “I can see why the council thinks the pigeons are a nuisance, but it has to be careful. Racing pigeons sometimes get lost and they will go to the nearest flock.

BORROWED TIME: Hanley’s pigeons. “Some pigeons are valuable – they race more than 500 miles. They should have rings on them or a stamp on their wing to show who they are owned by.” The cull is part of an ‘enhanced cleaning regime’, drawn up for the council’s rejuvenated £7 million public realm plan to increase footfall in Hanley. An initial one-off cull will cost £3,000 and contractors will return annually. A further £3,460 will be spent cleaning up pigeon mess. Student Josh Nixon, from Stockton Brook, said the cull was a “waste of time and money”. The 19-year-old said: “I’m aware there are pigeons around, but they’ve never bothered me. I certainly wouldn’t advocate killing them as a solution.” The council said its culling method, which is likely to involve the birds being poisoned or shot, was more

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humane than using spikes or netting. But Katie Fowler, of animal rights charity Animal Aid, said: “There is no nice way to cull pigeons. “It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money because pigeons will come back. Like most culls, you can take them out of a certain place temporarily, but you cannot change the natural order. “If the conditions are attractive to them, the pigeons will just come back. You need to make the conditions less appealing to them in the first place. “In almost all cases it is human behaviour that attracts them.” The council said work could start soon after plans are rubber-stamped this week. A spokesman said: “Pigeons carry weil’s disease, which can cause cardiovascular problems. “The pigeon population grows throughout the year due to the fast reproduction period, the fact they have no natural predators and due to people dropping food waste on the floor. “We’re able to map where pigeons congregate because they are known for roosting in buildings where they were bor n.” ‘Pigeons are part of the town’ and how £7 million scheme will help transform Hanley: See Page 6

Should the pigeons be culled? Email us at letters@thesentinel.co.uk

Picture: Mark Scott

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