Breeding 'stems pigeon numbers'
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Tuesday 26 January 1993
Killing them was useless, according to Daniel Haag- Wackernagel, the scientist in charge of the anti-pigeon project in Basel. He found that mass extermination of adults only created room for juveniles to thrive.
He said a better approach was to breed colonies in lofts. The birds were healthier and control easier as eggs could be taken from the nest before hatching.
A four-year project has reduced the pigeon population by half, from about 1,400 in 1988 to nearly 700 in 1992, he said.
Previous attempts over 20 years using killing, sterilisation, and a ban on feeding failed, Dr Haag- Wackernagel writes in the science journal Nature. The city authorities also tackled the 'mental attitudes' of the pigeon-feeding public, emphasising how overcrowding caused the birds to suffer.
'We have found a satisfactory change in the mental attitude of the public,' Dr Haag- Wackernagel says. 'Feeding pigeons has become a taboo and only a few incorrigible people continue.'
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