Pigeons in Hungerford – statement from Hungerford Town Council 3 August 2021

The following statement was received from Hungerford Town Council on 3 August 2021.

For many years, Hungerford Town Council (HTC) has received complaints about the excessive number of pigeons in the town that were causing significant health and safety problems for residents and businesses. A number of different deterrents have been tried with no success and the detrimental effect on the town and its residents and visitors continued to increase. 

Pigeons in Hungerford

HTC recently instructed a contractor to carry out a cull to reduce the pigeon numbers in Hungerford. This was completed by a professional licensed contractor in line with the legal requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A cull is justified when there is a threat to public health and other non-lethal methods of control are found to be impractical or ineffective.

Surveys have been carried out by professional contractors and numerous methods of non-lethal control have been used to try and reduce the well-established pigeon colony. Unfortunately, the number of pigeons in Hungerford continued to rise and many complaints were being received.

Why did we need to reduce the number of pigeons? 

  • Risk to public health: Feral pigeons act as reservoirs for many micro-organisms and zoonotic organisms which can cause infections and allergic diseases. Pathogens can be transmitted to humans by excreta, secretions or dust meaning that direct contact with the bird is not required. Though risk of transmission to healthy humans is low, there is a greater risk of infection for immuno-supressed people.
  • Accidents: Pedestrians slipping on surfaces/pavements covered in pigeon droppings.
  • Damage to buildings: The acidic nature of the droppings can cause brickwork and woodwork to deteriorate. Litter from the birds, either through dropping from nest and roosting sites, falls onto roads, pavements, and buildings.
  • Distress to residents and retailers: Invasion of pigeons into homes and shops, residents unable to open windows and noise of birds on roofs and windowsills.

Non-lethal steps taken to address the problem

  • Installation of netting, spikes and fire gel to buildings, roofs, ledges and signs to prevent pigeons settling to roost and breed in the centre of town.  Many property owners have pigeon proofed their buildings and Network Rail has proofed under the railway bridge, but this control method just causes the population to move to another building or area of the town. HTC cannot enforce owners to pigeon-proof their properties.
  • Reduction of food supply. Education of the local population not to feed the birds including press articles and signage. Street traders clearing up food waste as a condition of their license.
  • Daily cleaning of pavements by West Berkshire Council Street cleaner.
  • Exploration of relocation of birds to a sanctuary.
  • Consideration of the use of dovecotes.

4 Responses

  1. What a load of rubbish the guy culling was very professional (I watched him) . After living on the High Street for nine years and having pigeonsin and out of our flat, I’m very pleased this has happened.I can now leave my windows open when I go out with no fear of finding birds in my flat and pigeon poo everywhere. It’s seems these people have an opinion – but they don’t live on the High Street.

    1. Lisa, what date did you watch the pest controller in action please and do you know who it was there seems to be some confusion about who is shooting and if they are authorised, in the last week there have been more reports from the high street as your comment is from 29 August I am interested to hear when you saw the shooter in action

  2. There are more humane ways to deal with pigeons now days. Please research and consider other options like feeds containing birth control. Birds are a conscious beings capable of experiencing fear, compassion, heart ache, love, empathy and well any emotion you or I would experience if our mate went missing, or if we were to witness our mate murdered. Until I took in sibling pigeons as rescues, I was not able to witness these intelligent creatures experiencing all the same behaviors and emotions as humans.
    Recently I had one bird get out and for 5 days its mate would not eat and would only look to the skies all day hoping for the return of his mate. I know the same he was realizing the same stress, fear and concern as I, but on a more extreme level since he was unable to ask for help, search for his mate or even post a lost report on social media like us humans would.
    So I ask you to not see these birds as just wild animals, but for the similarities we all share.

  3. Leaving dead birds to rot; the pest control guy hired is just a guy with an air gun there is no proof of any bird work; no website, and we would doubt if he is insured to use a firearm in a public place and he must be escorted by police to shoot in a town at night. Hungerford people were not informed of the shootting; and now have to deal with dead birds everywhere and also damage to their properties as the pest company was shootting everywhere at random. The council has done none of the above as asll the netting is faulty and you ignored advice from other pest companies.

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