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Hawks could be introduced to high street to tackle pigeon problem

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 January 2019

A pigeon roosting among the spikes on a building in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A pigeon roosting among the spikes on a building in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

Hawks could soon become a familiar sight on a town centre street, as councillors search for a way to reduce hazardous pigeon droppings.

A pigeon at the Mere in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYA pigeon at the Mere in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The death of a 10-year-old boy in Scotland from a dropping related infection has prompted Diss Town Council to investigate solutions to the “significant issue”.

One suggestion to reduce the large pigeon population in Diss involves flying hawks onto buildings to discourage the birds from roosting.

A spokesman for nearby pest control company Dealey Bird Control and Falconry, told the council: “I see the pigeons making a mess of the high street and heritage triangle which I feel is a great shame to what could be a lovely looking town, but I would like to help with making it a nicer place and have the tools available to me to do this.”

The pest control company is interested in introducing a falconry service for a charge of around £2 from each shop, and said the hawks are not trained to kill.

Pigeons perched on a building in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPigeons perched on a building in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Councillors are waiting for the Traders Trust to respond to the idea before a decision is made.

Breathing dust or water droplets containing contaminated bird droppings can lead to several diseases, including psittacosis, with flu-like symptoms, and salmonella - a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhoea. Contact with droppings can be very serious when a person has an extremely weak immune system, such as cancer or HIV patients.

A council report for its infrastructure committee said: “The mess left by pigeons is a significant issue in Diss particularly along Mere Street, at the Mere’s Mouth, on the boardwalk and at the Corn Hall.

“Given the recent death of a child in Scotland and the dangers associated with breathing in the dust particularly from dried pigeon droppings, it is recommended that members consider what the council can do to reduce the problem.”

Pigeons among the ducks and seagulls at the Mere in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPigeons among the ducks and seagulls at the Mere in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Many buildings in the town are adorned with spikes to discourage pigeons from roosting, but Sue Dutton, who works at Diss Discounts said the birds frequently get impaled or stuck, which businesses have to deal with.

At an infrastructure committee meeting on Wednesday, councillors agreed to write to Diss businesses to enlist their support.

Pigeons have been a problem in Diss for many years.

Pigeons among the ducks and seagulls at the Mere in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPigeons among the ducks and seagulls at the Mere in Diss. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A particular hotspot for the birds is the Mere’s Mouth, where dozens congregate every day.

Brigitte Mager, owner of Diss Publishing Bookshop on Mere Street, next to the Mere’s Mouth, said: “We all love wildlife but we must be able to distinguish between vermin and birds.

“Unfortunately pigeon poo has been found to cause death. As a result we must take action when the population has exploded and is potentially causing harm to residents and visitors of Diss.

“The only solution is an overnight cull to reduce the population.”

Pigeons at Mere's Mouth in Diss. The health hazards caused by their droppings have prompted the town council to consider action. PHOTO: Sophie SmithPigeons at Mere's Mouth in Diss. The health hazards caused by their droppings have prompted the town council to consider action. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

More nature-friendly solutions are being looked at by Diss Town Council, including netting, and the non-lethal use of a pest control hawk. A report released in advance of Wednesday’s meeting said the Countryside and Wildlife Act, which protects wood pigeons, would need to be considered.

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