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Hawks to swoop in to tackle town's pigeon poo problem

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:06 30 May 2019

Hawks will soon be flown in Diss to scare of pigeons whose droppings have posed a long-running problem. Picture: Simon Parkin

Hawks will soon be flown in Diss to scare of pigeons whose droppings have posed a long-running problem. Picture: Simon Parkin

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Birds of prey will soon be soaring over a high street to scare off pigeons that have caused perisistent problems with unsightly droppings.

Falconer Mark White, from Dealey Bird Control, who are behind a scheme to fly birds of prey in Diss to control pigeon numbers. Picture: Dealey Bird ControlFalconer Mark White, from Dealey Bird Control, who are behind a scheme to fly birds of prey in Diss to control pigeon numbers. Picture: Dealey Bird Control

A scheme to fly falcons and a hawk over Mere Street in Diss looks set to begin later this summer after being given the go-ahead by local councils.

The idea was first suggested to Diss Town Council two years ago by pest specialists Dealey Bird Control, based in Bardwell, and traders were consulted.

Pigeons are a long running problem in the town particularly at the Mere Mouth and on surrounding buildings in the main shopping throughfare Mere Street.

Pigeons perched on a building in Diss among a large amount of droppings. Picture: Denise BradleyPigeons perched on a building in Diss among a large amount of droppings. Picture: Denise Bradley

As well as looking unsightly and being expensive to clean, droppings also harbour disease causing pathogens. The dangers were highlighted earlier this year when a 10-year-old boy in Scotland died from a pigeon dropping related infection.

Falconer Mark White, from Dealey Bird Control, said the company was waiting for final correspondance from South Norfolk Council giving environmental permission and would then be approaching shop owners to sign up for the scheme.

"We have worked it out that it would cost £1.75 per week for each shop if all of them joined. But at the moment we can't cost it definitely until we know how many will be signing up," he said.

Pigeons fly in flocks over Mere Street in Diss where birds of prey are set to be used to scare them off. Picture: Simon ParkinPigeons fly in flocks over Mere Street in Diss where birds of prey are set to be used to scare them off. Picture: Simon Parkin

"We are keeping it really simple but if in future there was extra funding from the councils, we would be able to bring the price down."

Mr White said the company's birds of prey, including a Harris hawk called Fagan and falcon called Fay, would be flown one at a time to disrupt roosting pigeons. The birds have been trained not to kill and are monitored using GPS.

He said: "We are looking at doing what we call a three, two, one; three times a week, then twice a week, then once thereafter. By that time we should have then established a pattern so they believe they have a predatory bird hunting in that area and should be fairly skittish.

Mere Street in Diss where traders will be asked to sign up to the scheme to fly birds of prey to scare off pigeons. Picture: Denise BradleyMere Street in Diss where traders will be asked to sign up to the scheme to fly birds of prey to scare off pigeons. Picture: Denise Bradley

"The falcons give a much better clearance rate, though for some of the harder areas we may use a hawk as they do a good job of pushing them out of buildings where they may be hiding up."

The company is aiming to start the flights at the end of July.

"July and August are beneficial because you don't have so many birds nesting so it's easier to deter," said Mr White. "When they are on nests pigeons won't leave their young it doesn't matter how much we scare them, they just don't go."

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