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Moves to reduce feral pigeons at iconic Bridge

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The NZ Transport Agency is taking steps to cut the number of feral pigeons that are damaging the steel work on the Alexandra Bridge on State Highway 8 in Central Otago.

Control work starting next week, aims to reduce the growing number of pigeons roosting on the bridge and the nearby piers of the old historic Alexandra Bridge. The estimated 400 pigeons involved, pose a health risk as they leave disease spreading excrement on the bridge walkways, which the NZTA pays to have cleaned up regularly.

NZTA’s Senior Asset Manager, John Jarvis, says nesting and droppings are corroding the structural steel, and whilst not an immediate safety risk, action is needed now to reduce pigeon numbers so damaged areas of the bridge can be repaired.

“Various control options were considered; the most effective being anaesthetic bait. Once consumed, the pigeons quickly become drowsy, can be caught, humanely put down and removed. The bait will be laid on trays in the early morning, under full supervision, several hundred metres downstream of the bridge and removed about 2 hours after sunrise each day.”

John Jarvis says the work is being carried out by a highly experienced and qualified pest control contractor at the coldest time of the year, when the bait is at its most effective. While this procedure will ensure other animals and birds are not affected, as an added precaution people should keep their pets away from the bait area during the hours of darkness. In the unlikely event that anyone thinks their pet may have been affected they should take it to a vet immediately.

The control operation is expected to take five to seven days at a cost of just under $4000.

This type of feral pigeon control has previously been used on other road bridges, including two in Central Otago. We have consulted on our plans with the Central Otago District Council, Department of Conservation, Otago Regional Council, SPCA, and the Forest and Bird Society who are comfortable with these, Mr Jarvis said.

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