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TransLink uses falcons to scare pigeons off SkyTrain tracks

Click to play video: 'TransLink tries raptors vs. pigeons' TransLink tries raptors vs. pigeons
WATCH: TransLink is hoping that birds of prey will keep pigeons, which it said cause 20 per cent of SkyTrain delays, off the tracks. Aaron McArthur reports – Jan 25, 2018

TransLink is getting creative to deal with its pigeon problem, by using…falcons.

The six-week pilot project is aimed to scare pigeons away from SkyTrain tracks.

“They’re a natural predator to the pigeon so therefore, they see them and hopefully they’ll go, ‘You know, I’m out of here,’” said Vivienne King, president of BC Rapid Transit Company.

WATCH: Avro the falcon joins Lynda Steele and John Daly to talk about TransLink’s new pilot project
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She said other attempts have been unsuccessful.

“We’ve tried spikes, we’ve tried mimicking these guys, so you know making the noise of them.”

Last year alone, pigeons were the cause of 142 track intrusion alarms, King said

READ MORE: WATCH: Pair of cougars spotted on Skytrain tracks in Port Moody

“When you think about our intrusion alarms, they are there for a reason and so when something is on the track, so we don’t know if that’s a bird, a piece of trash, or what have you, so the trains will stop,” she said.

She said fewer pigeons could help lower the number of disruptions.

TransLink partnered with the owner of Raptors Ridge Birds of Prey, Kim Kamstra.

LISTEN: TransLink hopes falcons will solve its pigeon problem
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Handlers have been walking with the birds around six SkyTrain stations since Dec. 18 to scare away the pigeons.

Kamstra said the use of falcons has made a difference at the 22nd Street station.

“Our first count was 71 or 68 pigeons at that site,” he said. “For the last week and a bit now ,I’ll be honest, we haven’t seen a pigeon in a week-and-a-half.”

Kamstra said all handlers focus on earning the trust of the falcons they work with.

If successful, King said falcons could become a new feature around SkyTrain stations.

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