Wildlife advocate questions decision to kill pigeons pooping on Saskatoon bridge

350 tonnes of pigeon poop on Saskatoon bridge

Crews are trying to clean the bridge of the feces of what is roughly equal to 230 cars

Crews tasked with cleaning a Saskatchewan bridge are in for a dirty job.

The City of Saskatoon says that over the last 50 years one of its bridges has accumulated nearly 350 tonnes of pigeon poop — which is roughly equal to 230 cars parked on the bridge.

It says the feces adds unnecessary weight and the pigeon droppings contain uric acid which can damage concrete.

The facelift also means the extermination of about 1,500 members of the feathered flock that makes the Sid Buckwold Bridge home.

READ MORE: 3-year-old girl attacked by coyote in White Rock

The city says relocating or displacing the birds is not recommended because they are likely to fly back or move into other private properties or civic spaces.

A local wildlife advocate is disappointed and questions why alternatives can’t be found that would allow the birds to live.

“In Saskatchewan, a very, very, very common response is if it pisses you off, shoot it,” says Jan Shadick, volunteer director of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation.

Shadick blames Saskatoon’s approach on a regional attitude towards so-called pesky wildlife.

“Everybody’s getting really mad at the pigeons, but if you didn’t clean your house for 50 years, I’m going to guess it would probably be condemned.”

In emails to The Canadian Press, a city spokesman says the bridge was designed with more than 30 cavities underneath, which make the structure rather cosy for pigeons to nest, but are difficult to reach.

“The challenge has always been access to these areas. They are essentially inaccessible over the river and the most efficient plan was to wait until the bridge rehab project,” Mark Rogstad wrote.

Clearing out the pigeons and their poop was set to begin this week. The city says once finished, it will take steps to deter the birds from renesting.

Canadian cities take different approaches to dealing with pigeons.

On other bridges in Saskatoon, the city uses mesh and barriers to prevent roosting and utilizes falcons around its waste-water treatment plant and landfill.

Regina and Vancouver rely on pigeon spikes, protective netting or cages to keep pigeons off their facilities.

Toronto and Calgary do not practise pigeon control.

READ MORE: Study on cancer prevention a message for governments, Canadians: researcher

A spokeswoman for the city of Ottawa says there’s no bylaw for regulating wild animals on private property, but the city recommends that people animal-proof their homes.

Shadick says she supports non-lethal ways to manage wildlife and believes if Saskatoon wants to be seen as an environmentally friendly, forward-thinking city it should rethink its plan.

“The pigeons are simply doing what they do,” she says.

“They’re living. They’re eating. They’re procreating. They’re being pigeons. They’re being birds.”

— By Stephanie Taylor in Regina

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Firefighters on scene at Castlegar house fire

The fire has since spread to an adjacent property

Zoning hearing scheduled for major Castlegar housing development

Phase two of Twin Rivers Estates needs a zoning change before moving forward

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read