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Advocate questions decision to kill pigeons pooping on Sid Buckwold Bridge

The City of Saskatoon said relocating or displacing the birds is not recommended because they are likely to fly back or move into other civic spaces.
The City of Saskatoon said relocating or displacing the birds is not recommended because they are likely to fly back or move into other civic spaces. File / Global News

Crews tasked with cleaning a Saskatchewan bridge are in for a dirty job.

The City of Saskatoon said that over the last 50 years one of its bridges has accumulated nearly 350 tonnes of pigeon poop – which is roughly equal to 230 cars parked on the bridge.

READ MORE: Saskatoon woman asking city to ban toxic bird control substance

It said the feces adds unnecessary weight and the pigeon droppings contain uric acid which can damage concrete.

The facelift also means the extermination of about 1,500 members of the feathered flock that makes the Sid Buckwold Bridge home.

The city said relocating or displacing the birds is not recommended because they are likely to fly back or move into other private properties or civic spaces.

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A local wildlife advocate is disappointed and questions why alternatives can’t be found that would allow the birds to live.

“In Saskatchewan, a very, very, very common response is if it pisses you off, shoot it,” said Jan Shadick, volunteer director of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation.

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Shadick blames Saskatoon’s approach on a regional attitude towards so-called pesky wildlife.

“Everybody’s getting really mad at the pigeons, but if you didn’t clean your house for 50 years, I’m going to guess it would probably be condemned.”

In emails to The Canadian Press, a city spokesman says the bridge was designed with more than 30 cavities underneath, which make the structure rather cosy for pigeons to nest, but are difficult to reach.

“The challenge has always been access to these areas. They are essentially inaccessible over the river and the most efficient plan was to wait until the bridge rehab project,” Mark Rogstad wrote.

WATCH BELOW: Partial shutdown looming for Saskatoon’s Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge (March 2019)

Partial shutdown looming for Saskatoon’s Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge
Partial shutdown looming for Saskatoon’s Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge

Clearing out the pigeons and their poop was set to begin this week. The city says once finished, it will take steps to deter the birds from renesting.

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Canadian cities take different approaches to dealing with pigeons.

On other bridges in Saskatoon, the city uses mesh and barriers to prevent roosting and utilizes falcons around its waste-water treatment plant and landfill.

Regina and Vancouver rely on pigeon spikes, protective netting or cages to keep pigeons off their facilities.

Toronto and Calgary do not practise pigeon control.

READ MORE: Pigeons ruffle feathers in Regina neighbourhood

A spokeswoman for the city of Ottawa said there’s no bylaw for regulating wild animals on private property, but the city recommends that people animal-proof their homes.

Shadick said she supports non-lethal ways to manage wildlife and believes if Saskatoon wants to be seen as an environmentally friendly, forward-thinking city it should rethink its plan.

“The pigeons are simply doing what they do,” she said.

“They’re living. They’re eating. They’re procreating. They’re being pigeons. They’re being birds.”