A wildlife rehab in Saskatoon is calling for the city to ban toxins that poison pigeons.
“Basically if you can imagine a bird having seizures,” said Jan Shadick, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation executive director, describing a pigeon’s painful death after eating poisoned corn.
“It’s an unfortunate way to die and it’s an unfortunate use of pigeon control methods within the city.”
The most common poison used is Avitrol. Shadick said she wants to see the city ban its use, or at least require the area it’s scattered around to be labelled, like when spraying pesticides.
She said her wildlife rehabilitation sees hundreds of poisoned pigeons — and some other birds — a year, but they’re also seeing it punch up the food chain.
“Dogs and cats have been demonstrated to have eaten these poison pigeons and died from it,” she said.
Hitman Exterminators in Saskatoon opened in 2015. They made the decision from the start to not use poison on pigeons for ethical reasons.
“A crow would eat it, a raven would eat it, numerous birds would eat it and it was open to anybody who wanted a free lunch. A squirrel could get a hold of it,” explained owner Jason Hiltz.
Instead, he said the company uses deterrents like nets and pigeon spikes.
Two years ago, the City of Saskatoon banned the use of poisoned corn according to Shadick, but only on city property.
Shadick said it hasn’t made a difference.
She said while most poisons to kill birds can only be bought by licensed professionals, some companies sell almost identical products to anyone online.
“The money that people are currently spending on putting out poisoned corn could be spent putting out birth control corn,” she said, explaining using birth control is a more humane version of pigeon population control.
The call is now being considered as the city creates its Integrated Pest Management report.