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Shooting pigeons would be 'useless and cruel', activists tell Vittoriosa council

Bird cull scheduled to take place next Thursday

Ahead of Vittoriosa’s pigeon culling on Thursday, a debate in the social media deals with the best way to control the bird population. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Ahead of Vittoriosa’s pigeon culling on Thursday, a debate in the social media deals with the best way to control the bird population. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

Shooting pigeons will only rejuvenate their population and the easiest way to control them is to keep the streets clean, according to an animal rights NGO.

Myriam Kirmond, from the Animal Rights Coalition, is urging the Vittoriosa local council to reconsider shooting pigeons and instead use alternative means to control the bird population.

News of a pigeon culling spree in Vittoriosa, planned for Thursday, was welcomed by some Vittoriosa residents but caused ripples of anger across social media.

Mayor John Boxall told this newspaper last week that, following in the footsteps of other localities – including St Julian’s, Sliema and Balzan, among others – the council had decided it was time to shoot the pigeons that “invaded” parts of the city.

Ms Kirmond said the Vittoriosa council was resorting to a “useless and cruel cull” that would only help rejuvenate the pigeon population by removing older, non-breeding birds.

READ: Pigeon cull planned for Vittoriosa

The local council, she said, should study the situation and its implications further and do things the right way instead of using other “local councils’ blunders as a premise”.

Ms Kirmond noted that the Animal Right Coalition last year listed a series of alternative measures to deter pigeons, which recommendations had been forwarded to all local councils. These include the anti-roosting spike and bird barriers that barred pigeons from ventilating shafts, where they eventually nested.

However, the most simple and effective way remained ensuring that roads were kept free of litter and food that pigeons could feed on.

Pigeons bred less or not at all if food was not available.

Another person protesting the culling, Mikel St John, from Animal Protectors Malta, is urging people to join him in Vittoriosa on Thursday and take pictures and footage of the shooting.

He said he would be sending such visual material to the foreign media.

Mr St John wondered how many laws such culling would be breaking, including the Animal Welfare Act, which stated that “animals are sentient beings”.

Mr St John told the Times of Malta that when pigeon culling took place in Malta in the past some of the shot birds fell in the sea and in people’s balconies.

Others did not die immediately and were “thrown away still alive in garbage bags, where they suffocated”.

“Why don’t we use methods that other countries use, such as contraceptive feed? If the authorities believe that pigeons carry diseases, how is it that letting them fall dead on people’s roofs and balconies is considered hygienic?” he asked.

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