Feeding pigeons could be costly
Feeding feral pigeons is punishable by a fine in at least two localities and another two local councils are drafting bylaws prohibiting feeding in a bid to control numbers.
Floriana and Pietà already have bylaws prohibiting feeding of pigeons, and anyone caught doing so faces a Lm20 fine. Second time offenders in Pietà will be fined Lm30.
The Valletta and Hamrun councils will also be making the feeding of pigeons illegal.
Fear of a bird flu outbreak has put pigeons in the line of fire, especially in towns characterised by populations of feral pigeons.
Although pigeons do not pose a great risk in case of a bird flu outbreak, Valletta mayor Paul Borg Olivier stressed the importance of not taking chances.
The mayor has been in contact with the Environment Minister and has held informal meetings with parliamentary secretary Francis Agius, during which they discussed environmental ways to control pigeons.
When contacted, Hamrun mayor Luciano Busuttil said the council was currently preparing a bylaw against feeding pigeons, especially in the town's squares. The size of the fine is still being discussed.
Floriana mayor Publius Agius explained that the only way to control pigeons was by not feeding them. Last year, the council introduced a bylaw aimed to control the proliferation of wild pigeons. Notices have been put up around Floriana informing the public that feeding pigeons is prohibited and anyone caught would be liable to a fine.
Nobody has yet been fined, Mr Agius said. But since the bylaw was introduced the number of people feeding pigeons had decreased substantially.
The fear of an avian flu outbreak is high on the Floriana council's agenda and today the council is expected to discuss the issue during its meeting.
Mr Agius said the council planned to send residents a letter urging them to cover water tanks to avoid pigeons falling in and to check ventilators for pigeon nests.
In Sliema, a problem with pigeons started around two years ago. Mayor Albert Bonello du Puis said a former resident who used to keep pigeons had let them free before moving out.
"Something has to be done all over the island to control pigeons," he said.
Marsa mayor Francis Debono does not agree with laws prohibiting people from feeding pigeons, although he admitted that such populations may not be such a good idea in residential areas.