Officials are investigating the option of placing pigeons on contraception in Barcelona in a bid to reduce the 85k strong flying population by means other than “catch and kill”.
Barcelona is the first major city in the world to investigate the scheme, one that has been tested in Genoa, Italy, for eight years. In a statement, the government described the scheme as a “clear and firm” commitment to ethical pigeon control.
The city estimates the pigeon population to be around 85k, although a census in February 2017 is expected to clarify that figure.
Pigeons are known for their rapid reproduction, but also by the high mortality rate of the young.
The initiative begins with mapping of the hotspots in the city where pigeons congregate, while also analysing the impact of pigeons on people’s health.
The contraception, nicarbazin, will be dispensed at 40 sterilising bird feeders that are to be installed throughout the city, focussing on areas of higher pigeon population and complaints.
The contraception is expected to reduce the pigeon population by 20 per cent in year one and around 70 to 80 per cent within four or five years.
The city council has said that in the medium term this action will allow them to cease the “catch and kill” method that ahs been decried by animal protection groups.
The scientific direction of the program will be carried out by the doctor of the Department of Medicine and Animal Surgery of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) Santiago Lavin, and the census work will be directed by the doctor of the Museu de Ciències Naturals Carles Senar, followed up by the Ecology and Public Health Agency.
The Commission on Protection of the Rights of Animals of the College of Lawyers of Barcelona (CPDA), along with other 152 Catalan animalistic associations have welcomed the decision, which will allow the “population control of urban birds ito be carried out by ethical, effective methods and with the least possible economic cost.”
The CPDA said in a statement that they have submitted various requirements for control methods, as it considers that with the capture and elimination of individuals also causes an alteration in the ecosystem with “harmful” consequences, and therefore welcomes the change of method.