Launceston is a city just north of the state of Tasmania, Australia, at the juncture of the North Esk, South Esk, and Tamar rivers. It is the second largest city in Tasmania with a population of over 100,000 people. The city recently sought advice on how to get rid of pigeons. A recent pigeon plague across inner Launceston rooftops created a smelly mess, cost local businesses thousands and threatened to potentially spread serious diseases.

The pigeons made their nests in some of the city's landmark buildings, including the old gasworks, the Telstra tower, and several of the city's historic banks and government institutions.

Some referred to the putrid pigeon infestation as a major nuisance and potentially toxic. The problem got so bad that one office was forced to close while hundreds of pigeons and their chicks were destroyed as the building's roof cavity was cleared and cleaned. Clearly, something had to be done to get rid of the pigeons.

Business owners noted that the pigeon problem was worse than dealing with rats. People were warned not to feed the pigeons to reduce the amount of droppings, which not only carry disease like salmonellosis, aspergillosis and histoplasmosis, but can create dangerous slip-and-fall liability for a business.

by Alex A. Kecskes

Not long ago, feeding pigeons in Trafalgar Square became an offense with violators being fined. In one city, pest birds had learned to associate a school's lunch bell with feeding time and would aggressively pester children for food. The fact is, "get rid of pigeons" has become the battle cry in many cities, towns and parks throughout the world. Especially as city health officials become increasingly aware of the many diseases carried by pigeon droppings.

The truth is, pigeons can create a number of serious problems. Gathering in flocks on buildings, pigeons can constitute a threat to human health and safety. The mess and droppings left by pigeons can negatively impact the appearance of a business. Often, the sheer weight of bird droppings can lead to structural collapse, particularly ceilings. It can also have a negative impact on a business's workforce. This includes the slip-and-trip hazards bird droppings leave on walkways, steps and entrances. It's no wonder more property owners seek ways to get rid of pigeons.

Clean-up costs can be prohibitively expensive. Removing nesting materials and accumulated droppings can be difficult, sometimes requiring specialists in "moon suits" to protect them from disease-carrying droppings that are aerated during removal by sand blasters. 

Through bird egg removal, birth-control pills and food deprivation, problem pigeons can be driven out of most areas in three to five years. While these methods may be humane, they are too time-consuming to appeal to most property owners and municipalities.  Fortunately, there are far more efficient and expedient ways to get rid of pigeons.