Wildlife advocate questions decision to kill pigeons pooping on Saskatoon bridge

350 tonnes of pigeon poop on Saskatoon bridge

Crews are trying to clean the bridge of the feces of what is roughly equal to 230 cars

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

The City of Saskatoon says 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.

It says 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.

READ MORE: 3-year-old girl attacked by coyote in White Rock

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

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,” says Jan Shadick, volunteer director of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation.

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.

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.

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: Study on cancer prevention a message for governments, Canadians: researcher

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

Shadick says 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 says.

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

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Douglas fir trees in Salmon Arm face attack from bark beetle

Online pamphlet can help residents learn how to protect their trees

North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse cancels box season

COVID-19 wipes out indoor lacrosse; group hopeful outdoor field season will start in August

Vancouver Foundation grants benefit Okanagan-Shuswap residents

Grants of up to $500 available for ideas that connect people socially or involve sharing skills

UPDATED: Two sent to hospital by air ambulance following Enderby highway accident

Drivers involved in collision on Highway 97A in Enderby; serious, but not life-threatening injuries

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Water quality advisory rescinded for Central Okanagan system

Turbidity levels improve enough to rescind advisory issued for Killiney Beach system May 11

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Summerland once had Old English theme

Design guidelines were introduced in late 1980s

Most Read