Soon to be culled feral pigeons on the Alexandra bridge.
Photo by Sarah Marquet.
Armed with air rifles, silencers and night-vision
goggles, hunters will be staking out the Alexandra bridge over
the next few weeks.
Their quarry will be the feral pigeons whose dung and
roosting activities are corroding the steel of the bridge
over the Clutha River and damaging the nearby historic bridge
Following an unsuccessful July offensive on the estimated
400-strong pigeon population, the New Zealand Transport
Agency has turned to air rifles instead of poisoned bait.
Agency area manager John Jarvis said the birds did not seem
interested in the bait and so the agency had to change
Following approval from relevant authorities including the
police and SPCA, agency contractors will soon begin their
operation, working in darkness below the bridge deck where
most of the birds roost.
Mr Jarvis said it would be "a bit of a trial-and-error"
process to begin with. It was likely only one person would be
armed at any one time.
That person would be in radio contact with team members
stationed at either end of the bridge who would control
traffic while shooting was taking place.
While this method would be slightly more expensive than the
poison option, it would have a higher success rate.
However, "I would be surprised if we got the whole lot", Mr
But a reduction in numbers would allow the agency to clean
excrement from the bridge to assess the damage.
Mr Jarvis said the excrement was corroding the structural
steel of the bridge and while it was not an immediate safety
risk, pigeon numbers needed to be reduced now so the bridge
could be repaired.
The birds were last culled 25 years ago.
The work is expected to take several weeks.