The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is confident night shooting being carried out over the next few weeks will reduce the estimated 400 feral pigeons damaging the State highway 8 Alexandra Bridge in Central Otago.
Excrement from the pigeons is corroding structural steel on the bridge, and whilst not an immediate safety risk, action is needed now to reduce pigeon numbers so damaged areas of the bridge can be repaired. The pigeon’s disease carrying excrement that lands on the bridge walkway, also poses a health risk, with the NZTA having to pay to have this regularly cleaned up.
NZTA Senior Asset Manager, John Jarvis, says various options have been explored to eradicate the pigeons. This included a recently widely advertised baiting option, which did not proceed following an unsuccessful trial over winter.
“After further discussion with various stakeholders including the local Police and SPCA, it has been decided that night time shooting in a safe and controlled way would be the most effective method of managing the growing feral pigeon population at the bridge. Night shooting was successfully used to control pigeons at the bridge about 25 years ago.”
The work will involve experienced pest contractors undertaking controlled night shooting using air rifles with silencers and night vision sights to ensure the feral pigeons can be safely targeted and eradicated. A plan for this work has been approved by the Police
Mr Jarvis said all shooting will take place below the bridge deck where the majority of the pigeons roost. The area will be tightly controlled so people or vehicles don’t pass over the bridge while the shooting takes place.
The work will start within the next few weeks and if the weather is unfavourable could take several weeks. Depending on the success of this initial operation, its possible further work may be required in about 12 months time.