to cease pigeon poisoning
spur non-lethal action
Saturday, October 28,1995
By Mark J. Scarp
At the urging of local animal-rights
activists, a Scottsdale hotel has given up chemical warfare in its efforts
to rid its buildings of a few dozen pigeons.
Installing wires that offer a mild,
nonlethal electrical shock among other steps, are being considered to keep
pigeons from roosting and dropping excrement on sidewalks, furniture and
people, said Doug Cole, general manager of the Scottsdale Hilton.
The move was made after a drug used
to disorient the pigeons started killing them instead.
That sparked requests to Dave
Roth of the Urban Wildlife Society to do something about the lethal practice.
The poisoning started after hotel
guests complained about the pigeons, which roost mostly on the hotel's
upper floors and tower, said Cole. He said three or four pigeon carcasses
were found after the drug Avitrol was set out for pigeons to eat.
Cole said exterminators told hotel
employees that Avitrol would merely disorient the birds, preventing them
from finding their way back to the Hilton, 6333 N. Scottsdale Road
But Roth said he told Cole this
week of studies by the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the
National Pest Control Association showing that Avitrol is mostly lethal.
Birds[, people] and other animals
who ingest as little as l/600th of a teaspoon of the tan, crystalline Avitrol
convulse and die lingering deaths of up to two hours, Roth said.
"It's not our mission nor that of
the pest control company to kill them," said Cole, who ordered the use
of Avitrol halted Wednesday. "I heard enough (from activists) to discontinue
using the chemical if it has any effect on killing pigeons."
Other non-lethal solutions presented
by activists include netting that forms a transparent barrier, sealing
areas against entry by birds, and wires that prevent birds from balancing
Cole said activists asked him
to consider adopting a solution they said is cheaper in the long term,
erecting electrical wires that provide a mild shock that keeps pigeons
The wires, installed at the Maricopa
County Madison Street Jail in downtown Phoenix for $50,000 this year, keeps
thousands of pigeons from alighting and could save $1 million in extermination
and cleanup costs over the life of the building, Roth said.
Contrary to what many people believe,
pigeon droppings pose virtually no health risk to humans, Roth said.
"I mean, if you were in an infested
building, pulled down a wall panel and got a face full of the stuff, that
might be another matter," he said.
Roth said pigeons in Arizona are
really Mediterranean rock doves, the original Dove of peace" in European
history and the same species the Bible said Noah originally released from
his ark during the great flood.
The Avian Affairs Coalition, a
local bird-advocacy group, has a hotline for information and reporting
abuse. The number is [602.ANIMALS (264-6257)].