The following has been annotated by the Urban Wildlife Society

Sun Cities Independent


March 17-23, 1999

 Pigeons driving
officials coo-coo

Independent Newspapers

[Annotations are in bold, italicized text within brackets]

Health and economic issues were at the forefront of discussions held during the second meeting of the group studying the feral  pigeon problem in the northwest Valley. 

Representatives from Youngtown, Sun City, Sun City West, Litchfield Park and the Master Gardeners Club heard presentations from Kevin Grant and Jim West, agents from the USDA Wildlife Services, and Larry Sullivan, extension specialist of Biological Sciences of the University of Arizona. 

Participating from the Sun Cities were James Warfield, general manager, Recreation Centers of Sun City Inc.; James Collingsworth, RCSC grounds maintenance supervisor, Hy Goldberg, Property Owners and Residents Association, Deed Restriction Committee chairman; and Dorothy Schrage, Master Gardeners. 

Mr. Grant explained that the use of chemicals to control the burgeoning pigeon population must be approved by the state, and only a specialist trained in pesticides can use them. 

[Bird extermination programs are inherently dangerous, cruel, indiscriminate, wasteful, ineffective, and uneconomical.]

The group also heard a report from Mohave County regarding that northwest Arizona county's attempt to eradicate pesky pigeons. 

The county passed an ordinance in 1998 prohibiting the feeding of pigeons on the ground, but the county's Environmental Health Division has encountered difficulties in enforcing the law, noted June Miller, Youngtown Councilwoman and pigeon group organizer. 

[State and regional representatives of the Urban Wildlife Society presented the facts to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors and warned them what would happen -- which is exactly what has happened.]

"They have had to make several visits to violators' homes and it has put a strain on their work force," Mrs. Miller said. "Their success rate is difficult to judge, but they are seeing some results." 

Mrs. Miller said there is no way to estimate the number of pigeons plaguing Youngtown, but the problem does seem to be escalating. 

[Ms. Miller is a government official who is advocating action based upon her own prejudice rather than on actual facts. During the spring, which is the breeding season, there is a natural -- and temporary -- increase in bird populations. Bird removal schemes only increase breeding success by removing overcrowding, which causes higher than normal spikes very soon after removal campaigns. Therefore, removing birds usually exacerbates the "problem" rather than alleviating it. (Click here to see "Bird population fluctuation chart)]

"We are concerned about pigeons all over town, Mrs. Miller explained. "We have several people feeding them, and that is a problem. 

[If neighbors don't mind people feeding the pigeons, they are attracting the birds to where they are wanted, which means they won't be where they are not wanted.]

"At present, there is no known control but we are still searching," she continued. 

[The Urban Wildlife Society offered credible pigeon control information to Ms. Miller but, she refused it. Apparently, she has made up her mind and doesn't want to be confused by the FACTS.]

"We are trying to devise a plan to rid the town of the pigeons. We don't want our citizens to get sick." 

[The National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that pigeons are insignificant as a public health threat. State and local health department records show that there has never been a case of anyone getting a disease from a pigeon -- ZERO, ZIP, NADA. And, the reporting of such diseases is required by law.]

Youngtown is not alone in suffering a pigeon infestation, Mrs. Miller noted. 

"The other communities need help, too," she said. 

[Surveys have shown that the vast majority of the general public like pigeons. So, those who complain about so-called infestations are a very vocal minority who use misinformation, scare tactics, and intimidation to promote their hateful, dangerous, and counter-productive campaigns.] 

 It is that need that led to last fall's formation of the group studying the problem. 

"All the surrounding communities are interested and are willing to work with us," Mrs. Miller said. 

[The common pigeon is actually the Mediterranean Rock Dove, the biblical symbol of love and peace. So, God forbid, should other communities follow Miller's lead.] 

Mrs. Miller has previously discovered that neighboring communities - Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, El Mirage, Peoria, Glendale and Litchfield Park are also afflicted with the same problem. 

"This is a regional problem," she said. 

[A "problem" which is most effectively handled without torturing the poor, innocent birds.  The State, Maricopa County, and the City of Phoenix used bird removal schemes for decades without success.  Now, they all use habitat modification because it is the only method that permanently solves their problems with pigeons -- and reduces the overall population, as well.]

Educational pamphlets were furnished to the group by Mr. Sullivan, and they will be distributed soon to interested communities. The pamphlets detail the potential health risk associated with a large pigeon population. 

[The operative word is "potential". You have the potential to be struck and killed by a meteorite or be eaten by a Bengal Tiger. But, like getting a disease from a pigeon, such "potential" is so remote as to border on the absurd.]

Pigeon droppings are known to carry or transmit such diseases as pigeon ornithosis, encephalitis, Newcastle disease, cryptococcosis, toxoplasmosis, salmonella and histoplasmosis. 

The latter is a systemic fungal disease that can infect humans through airborne spores resulting from pigeon fecal matter. Infections from histoplasmosis may occur in the lungs, liver, spleen and the central nervous system. 

[The Urban Wildlife Society has much information from government, health, and other experts which dispels these gross exaggerations.]

"We need to get people to stop feeding the pigeons," Mrs. Miller said succinctly. 

[Pigeon populations are primarily controlled by the availability of nesting sites. They congregate where they are fed, which can be a good thing.]

In addition to the potential toll on human health, there is an economic consideration, Mrs. Miller noted. 

"We need to consider the cost of damage they do to our roofs and buildings," she said. 

[Roofing products manufacturers state that pigeon droppings in no way harm their roofing materials.]

"Droppings clog drains and render surfaces, such as stairways and fire escapes, hazardous and contaminate large quantities of human and animal food," Mr Sullivan wrote in the pamphlet. 

[Again, this is grossly misleading. Leaves and other non-bird related debris are what usually clog drains. Bird droppings may be present but, are not likely the cause.  And, where do large -- or small -- quantities of food exist in the West Valley that can be contaminated by pigeons?]

"We have hopes that people will recognize the very real problems they are causing for themselves as well as their neighbors," Mrs. Miller added. 

[We animal lovers and promoters of truth, justice, and competence in government hope that voters recognize the very real problems irresponsible officials like Ms. Miller and her ilk are causing, and remove them from office as quickly as possible.]

["Suppose you were an idiot... And suppose you were a member of Congress... But, I repeat myself." - Mark Twain]

For more info, contact the Urban Wildlife Society at 602.ANIMALS, e-mail, or see us on the internet at

["True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect, mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle; a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it." - Milan Kundera (1929 - )]

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