Two hawks set to roam around Walsall's skies to tackle problem pigeons

Two hawks will take to the skies over Walsall in a bid to tackle the "feral" pigeon population.

Councillor Oliver Butler with Boris the hawk
Councillor Oliver Butler with Boris the hawk

Boris and Harriet, from the Lichfield Falconry and Hawking Centre, have been introduced to keep the birds away.

The scheme, launched by Walsall Council, comes after a string of complaints over the mess the pigeons make.

Councillor Oliver Butler, cabinet member for clean and green, said: "The pigeons in Walsall town centre are an absolute pain and we get lots of complaints about the mess they make.

"People don’t want to sit on benches covered in pigeon faeces and they certainly don’t want to be targeted from overhead either.

“Breathing dust or water droplets containing contaminated pigeon droppings can lead to several diseases, including a flu-like illness called psittacosis and also salmonella, a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhoea.

“We want Walsall town centre to be a clean, safe and welcoming environment.

"Having hundreds of feral pigeons flying around the town centre every day does not make for clean streets.”

Graham Rees, owner of Lichfield Falconry and Hawking Centre, will fly the hawks for a number of days each week for around six months.

It will focus on lunchtime periods – when the availability of food for pigeons is at its highest.

Pigeons will recognise the hawks as natural predators, with their presence making the birds feel unsafe – leading to them naturally dispersing.

Councillor Butler said the birds would not "hunt and kill" the birds due to them being specially trained.

He said: "As trained birds, they recognise Graham as being the source of their food, rather than the pigeons. This exercise is all about changing the behaviour of the pigeons by making them feel that the environment is much less safe for them.

“It will help even more if people ensure they dispose of food waste in the many bins around the town centre and do not encourage the pigeons by feeding them.

"We ask people to remember that, even if the pigeons don’t eat food left out in the day, rats will probably finish what’s left during the night.”

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