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Call for cull of 'rats of the sky'

Pigeons — referred to by some as “winged rats” or “rats of the sky’’ — are a major issue in the city and should be a council pest control responsibility similar to rats and mice.

Richard Jackson, a member of Emerald Hotel Body Corporate, told the Future Tairawhiti committee (all councillors and the mayor) the ‘‘pigeon problem’’ was so bad that Gisborne District Council, rather than building owners, should assume responsibility.

The body corporate wants a ‘‘major cull’’ done by the district council this year, followed by an “annual maintenance cull’’.

Mr Jackson said flocks of between 40 and 50 pigeons could regularly be seen flying around while large numbers settled on the roof tops of the Odeon Multiplex, the former Masonic Hotel, Adairs and the Chorus building.

Many others were seen at Sunshine Brewery, the former railway station, Alfred Cox park and other locations.

“It is our opinion that if we deal with the pests on our building, they will be back in a very short space of time.

“Building owners can put up spikes and netting etc, but it does little to solve the problem — it merely moves it to somewhere else.

“This is a Gisborne district problem.”

Mr Jackson said Gisborne pigeons had a vast food basket on the Poverty Bay Flats, could breed prolifically and posed a health risk.

“In the past 30 to 40 years the Poverty Bay Flats have gone from a few sheep grazing to a huge food basket for pigeons.”

There were few nesting sites on the flats and many palm trees in the harbour area had been cut down so the pigeons “came to town”.

Mr Jackson said the body corporate believed “the council should be the ones to do an annual cull of these pests to preserve our buildings, our crops and clear the city of some of the excrement and nests that block out gutters and deface our buildings”.

“The council needs to take immediate ownership.’’

Mr Jackson recommended a poison called DRC 1339, which was a well-studied invasive animal toxin used for controlling blackbirds, starlings, pigeons, gulls, magpies and ravens.

Controlling pigeon numbers was among the council’s responsibilities of providing sustainable wellbeing to its citizens and ratepayers, he said.

THE BIRDS: Pigeons gather on a building in the city centre. The Emerald Hotel Body Corporate wants Gisborne District Council to assume responsibility for controlling the pigeons, including an annual cull. Picture by Paul Rickard
A pigeon in flight. Picture supplied