Pigeons on the pill
They’ve used it in San Diego, St. Paul, Minn., and had heated discussions about it in Staten Island, NY. All of these came and went without much notice. Then, Ovocontrol-P, a now-popular form a birdie birth control, went Hollywood on us. Literally. The Argyle Civic Association (ACA) – a neighborhood association in Hollywood – decided to give the pill a try. The pigeon population had soared in recent years to the apparent evil doings of someone referred to as the “Bird Lady”; she recently dumped a 25-pound bag of bird feed in 29 Hollywood places.
Hollywood’s response? OMG!
Residents were less than pleased when more pigeons, and more pigeon droppings, got in the way of their high-stress lives of beaches, Beamers and Botox. Panic ensued. The ACA then went the way of twenty-something women everywhere in an effort to fix the problem. During the summer of 2007, they implemented the first dose and expected to see some kind of results in a year. My incessant Googling produced no updates on their current plight, but by 2012, the pigeon population is expected to shrink by half.
After Hollywood, the domino effect was instant. Almost immediately, the Linda Vista neighborhood in San Diego tried Ovocontrol-P for the pigeons roosting on the roof of a popular skate park. Then, a councilman representing Staten Island, NY suggested that birth control could slow the pigeon population at the ferry terminals. Recently, St. Paul, Minnesota employed the tactic just in time for the Republican National Convention.
Why is ‘pilling’ the pigeons becoming so popular? It is a non-lethal and completely humane way to get rid of them. Basically, the pill interferes with the egg development; pigeons will still lay the eggs, they will just never hatch. And since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gave Ovocontrol-P the thumbs up, it is all systems go. Even the Brits are considering borrowing (read: stealing) our brilliance to handle their pigeon problem.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. Sure, it will (eventually) rid my life of pesky pigeon poop on my freshly washed and waxed automobile. And I will (eventually) not have to deal with their low-flying, loud and disease-infested presence ruining my ambiance. No more feathers clogging my drains. No more threat of bird mites attacking my bloodstream, making my life miserable. No more lice (courtesy of nests) lurking a few feet above my head.
This seems a bit extreme – even for someone who doesn’t care too much for the little critters. Pigeons, with all their pervasiveness, should be given a shot to procreate as well. No, we don’t want them roosting on our roofs or defecating on our property. But do we really want to stop another living species from, well, living? What happens when we get tired of squirrels; put them on the pill too? How about stray cats? Animals in shelters? One (extremist?) poster on sciforums.com suggested that this is the beginning of the end for humans as well. Overpopulation? No worries! The good ol’ government will just design a gene that makes people infertile. Problem solved.
Though I feel this is somewhat radically overstated, maybe they’ve got a point. The fact remains that these people are treating the symptom and not the problem. There are too many proven effective ways to controlling birds to resort to encouraging their extinction. And besides, putting the current crop on the pill will not stop future fliers from resting where the old ones perished. The roof, ledge, tree, or wherever is still appealing to birds; that won’t change. And the people over at Tree Hugger made an excellent point about human birth control and its dire effect of fish. What, then, will the effect be on Raptors that pray on pigeons?
Hmmm…check out this site to see some of the humane ways (and by humane, I mean will not render barren) to control pigeons and other birds. Pigeons on the pill? What is the world coming to…