Hawks have their eye on town pigeon menace

Hawks may be used to scare off the flocks of pigeons and break their nesting cycle. EMN-170131-101401001
Hawks may be used to scare off the flocks of pigeons and break their nesting cycle. EMN-170131-101401001

Hawks may be swooping in to scare off flocks of pigeons that are becoming a costly headache for town centre traders.

North Kesteven District Council is seeking financial contributions towards drafting in pest control experts with birds of prey to scare aware the growing flocks of pigeons that roost around the rooftops and precincts.

Pigeon menace. Flocksgather on roof tops in Sleaford town centre. EMN-170131-101158001

Pigeon menace. Flocksgather on roof tops in Sleaford town centre. EMN-170131-101158001

The move comes as businesses are facing costly bills to have the bird’s droppings cleared.

Sarah Graves of Appetites sandwich shop said she is one of a number of businesses on Southgate, Bristol Arcade and Riverside Precinct who have struggled with the problem.

She said: “When they netted the Sessions House we noticed an increase in pigeons here. We have someone clean up the back yard and the roof gutters quarterly but it has got worse since they started work on refurbishing the Riverside Precinct. Around 4pm there are thousands of them sat on the roof and all over.”

Miss Graves said she and three other businesses paid £1,140 each in November to clean out the huge amounts of pigeon droppings from the roofs and walls, unblock gutters and pipes and she said that was unsustainable, leading to them approaching the district council for a long term solution. She added: “It is a heritage building and the smell outside our shops is horrendous at times.

“It is alright removing the droppings but you have to do something about the pigeons. The arcade would look so much better.”

The arcade is also set to be enhanced as part of the district council’s Heart of Sleaford project.

Property owners Steve and Julie Mclelland said: “We have tried various methods of trying to deter the pigeons from our buildings but none of them have worked. The pigeons are nesting in the buildings in the centre of town and it is a real hazard.”

NKDC is looking at employing pest control experts NBC Environment to use Harris hawks to unsettle the pigeons during a two-week intensive period followed up by further visits to break the nesting cycle and force them to move away from the town centre as has been successful in other cities and most notably in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Alan Gray, economic development manager, said: “This is felt to be the best approach and we are getting quotes for this work to be carried out and identifying how it will be paid for, with NKDC setting aside some money towards it.”

The authority is prepared to put £500 into the pot - and asking Sleaford Town Council to do the same, while aslo seeking contributions from businesses to meet the £3,840 contract.

NBC Environment falconer Steve Owen said pigeons soon get wise to other deterrents and ignore them. He said: “A Harris hawk is a low level bird that will roof hop rather than soar like a falcon and will scare them off. We are aiming to break habits.”

Mr Owen said it was more cost effective to treat the problem this way than continuing paying clean up bills.