Saturday, October 28,1995 
Ahwatukee, Apache Junction, Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, Tempe, Scottsdale and the East and Northeast Valley

Click on 
one of the underscored titles below
to go to that
home page:
  • Animals

  • Pigeons

  • Urban Wildlife Society

  • Avian Affairs Coalition

  • Wildlife Rehab

  • Animal Protection Agency

  • Veterinary Emergency Medical Service
  • Hotel to cease pigeon poisoning

    Activists spur non-lethal action

    Saturday, October 28,1995 
    By Mark J. Scarp
    Tribune writer

    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 on ledges.

    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 from roosting.

    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)].