Birth control program for nuisance pigeons expanded along SkyTrain system

TransLink and the BC SPCA are expanding a pilot project feeding birth control to pigeons to try and keep them away from the SkyTrain system. Siska Gremmelprez/AFP/Getty Images

TransLink and the BC SPCA are expanding a pilot project that feeds birth control to pigeons in a bid to keep the birds away from the city’s SkyTrain system.

The pilot was initially launched in February of last year when a feeder stocked with cracked corn and a bird-specific birth control called OvoControl was installed at the VCC-Clark station.

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

As you know if you’re a transit rider, there can be a lot of pigeon poop around,” BC SCPA chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois told CKNW’s Mornings With Simi.

“So this has been an issue for TransLink as well as many other organizations and businesses for a long time.”

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Pigeons have been more than a minor nuisance for the SkyTrain system. Back in 2015, Expo Line service ground to a halt for an entire morning commute after a bird’s nest under the guideway caught fire.

Dubois says feeders are now being installed at eight stations, though only four of them will be stocked with OvoControl. The other four will be stocked with normal cracked corn, and act as a 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
TransLink and SPCA team up to take on pigeon birth control – Feb 7, 2019

OvoControl is non-toxic and has been approved by Health Canada.

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We’re not harming them in any way, we’re just trying to naturally decrease the population over time and ensure that the ones that are here are going to be safe,” Dubois said.

“The feeders are set off every morning at 7 a.m. and the birds flock to eat it. And just like a daily pill, as long as they’re consistently eating enough of the substance at the four active stations, we expect to see a decrease in pigeon populations over time.”

READ MORE: Will it fly? Frisky pigeons could be put on birth control pill in Trail

Dubois said the SPCA does not believe the drug will harm other bird populations, as they would need to be regularly eating it for it to affect their breeding cycle. She said pigeons habitually return to feed at the same spots, while other birds do not.

Dubois said the location of the feeders is being kept secret, as people have tried to steal them in the past.

— With files from Niki Reitmayer

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