B.C.’s solution to tackling the pigeon problem on SkyTrain? Birth control

Click to play video: 'TransLink and SPCA team up to take on pigeon birth control'
TransLink and SPCA team up to take on pigeon birth control
WATCH: TransLink and SPCA team up to take on pigeon birth control – Feb 7, 2019

Pigeons can be a real problem on B.C.’s SkyTrain transit system.

While the droppings are messy enough, the birds also put customer safety at risk. TransLink says they trigger track intrusion alarms, which can cause the driverless trains to brake automatically, leading to customer falls and service delays.

So TransLink and the BC SPCA have come up with a solution to help reduce the pigeon population at the VCC-Clark SkyTrain Station — birth control.

READ MORE: TransLink uses falcons to scare pigeons off SkyTrain tracks

As part of a pilot project to control the population, an automatic bird feeder will be dispensing OvoControl.

TransLink says it is a non-toxic, effective and humane contraception used in other cities to prevent pigeon reproduction and reduce populations naturally.

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TransLink has already put up nets at stations, set up spikes and strips to deter them from roosting and hired a falconer to patrol stations with the most pigeons.

The move to provide birth control is being supported by wildlife and animal groups.

“Wildlife Rescue strives to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the urban environment and rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife,” Linda Bakker, co-executive director of the B.C. Wildlife Rescue Association said in a release.

“This project aims to humanely reduce the number of pigeons at areas that have a lot of potential casualties and injuries in pigeons. This project will reduce the number of injured, deceased and orphaned pigeons in these areas. Wildlife Rescue supports the BC SPCA in promoting humane wildlife management practices.”

READ MORE: Downtown Edmonton hotel’s ownership group speaks out after being ordered to address leaks, venting issues tied to pigeon feces

According to TransLink, studies have shown a 50 to 90 per cent population reduction in OvoControl-managed pigeon populations, as those who eat the bait pellets regularly will not be able to fertilize eggs.

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The BC SPCA says with fewer new pigeons born, the population around the SkyTrain stations will be naturally reduced and fewer operational issues will result.

“OvoControl has been approved for use by Health Canada and only has contraceptive effects in birds,” Dr. Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer with the BC SPCA, said in a release.

“Pigeons must eat their daily dose (5g/bird) for the contraceptive to work, and it is designed to be fed in a manner to maximize pigeon feeding behaviour. We are happy TransLink is ready to partner with us and research what could be a very effective and humane long-term solution.”

WATCH: (Aired Jan. 24, 2018) 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.

Click to play video: 'TransLink tries raptors vs. pigeons'
TransLink tries raptors vs. pigeons

The OvoControl pilot may be expanded to other stations if successful at VCC-Clark.


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