Nuisance Pigeon Management
Posted on January 13, 2022
Industrial hygiene, health, and safety rank among the top concerns of every manufacturer in the US. Without strategic, meaningful countermeasures in place, industrial facilities can lose employees or contractors because of accidents due to negligence of the smallest concerns. Many times, the major concerns such as, lock out tag out, the use of heavy machinery, or confined space entry is what health and safety managers are focused on. However, these major safety and health topics are not the only items on the plate of EHS personnel across all manufacturing. Natural resource health and safety concerns weigh heavy in manufacturing. This includes, but is not limited to, the management of feral species such as pigeons, hogs, or cats to name a few. The information below will highlight the dangers, economic cost, and management of resident pigeons on industrial sites.
You may be thinking what could possibly come from the cute-ish creature that people encounter daily in metropolitan areas around parks, bridges, and buildings? Pigeons individually have little to no risk of spreading disease or causing harm to humans, but in a large group the risk increases significantly. Pigeons typically live in groups of at least 20-30 at a time and can range up to over 100 birds in a flock. Pigeons will lay eggs and hatch their young about 8 times a year and on average hatch 2 offspring at a time, thus increasing population exponentially. You may be asking where does the danger lie? Pigeons carry a variety of zoonotic diseases. These diseases range from Cryptococcosis, Histoplasmosis, or even Psittacosis. Some of these symptoms may be a cough or infected eyes (pink eye) but can be as severe as pneumonia. Because industrial facilities offer so much structure, pigeons will easily make their home in many parts of industrial facilities. This means, whether you have 50 employees or 1500 employees on-site, they all have a potential of being exposed to these diseases as long as pigeons reside at your facility.
When it comes to having a large population of anything, fecal droppings become a major concern. Pigeons will average about 5 droppings per hour. Pigeon fecal droppings contain ammonia as well as micro-bacteria and is where scientists say that the transmission of zoonotic diseases take place. Ammonia is high in nitrogen and can cause rapid breakdown of metals and wood, which will increase maintenance costs. If these droppings were to contaminate food grade or any finished product, it will cause manufacturers to have to discard the product as a waste. The New York Times estimated that pigeons average $1.1 billion in damage annually across the nation. That factor alone is worth a heavy evaluation of pigeon residency on-site.
What can you do once you determine you may have a pigeon problem? If water, food, and shelter are available, pigeons will inhabit that area. From a flock management standpoint in an industrial setting, there is very little that can be done to remove food (nearby fruit and grains), water, or shelter. This leaves us with a variety of eradication and detour methods to keep the population down. Some eradication methods are trapping, shooting, pesticides, and predatory inhabitance of a natural enemy. For industrial manufacturing, it is not recommended to house a predatory animal (cats, snakes, etc.) to lower the population. Shooting projectiles and the use of pesticides have limitations but can prove effective in the right circumstance. When it comes to detour methods, sound machines, mannequins of natural predators, and high velocity fans have been used to prevent the inhabitance of a location. These methods are usually ineffective when a location has a higher population and their effectiveness typically diminishes over time. These methods are recommended to be used simultaneously with an eradication method to see a higher percentage success rate. Trapping is the most effective method of population control in combination with the use of other techniques.
Environmental 360 Management Plan
Environmental 360 has successfully managed feral wildlife at numerous industrial facilities and can help by developing a comprehensive pigeon management plan. We strategize and scope out the highest traffic areas, scout food, water, and shelter sources, and decide which eradication method(s) best suits your facility. If you are not sure if your pigeon issue deserves to be acted on, ask us for an evaluation of the facility. This evaluation could be tracked over the course of months and years and ultimately allow you to decide if you have a more serious issue than you may realize.
Mooallem, Jon. “Pigeon Wars.” The New York Times, 15 Oct. 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/15/magazine/15pigeons.html.
“A Pigeon’s Life Cycle Explained.” Pigeonpedia, https://pigeonpedia.com/pigeon-life-cycle/.
Haag-Wackernagel, Daniel, and Geigenfeind, Ila. (2008). Protecting buildings against feral pigeons. European Journal of Wildlife Research. 54. 715-721. 10.1007/s10344-008-0201-z.
“Feral Pigeon Control.” Government of Western Australia Department of Health, https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/Feral-pigeon-control.
Erin E. Stukenholtz, Tirhas A. Hailu, Sean Childers, Charles Leatherwood, Lonnie Evans, Don Roulain, Dale Townsley, Marty Treider, R. Neal Platt II, David A. Ray, John C. Zak and Richard D. Stevens (April 3rd 2019). Ecology of Feral Pigeons: Population Monitoring, Resource Selection, and Management Practices, Wildlife Population Monitoring, Marco Ferretti, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.84612. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/66330.
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