Pigeon infestation more than just a peeve for Gander workers

The risk of lung disease is a key concern.

Gander is having issues with nesting pigeons at its salt storage facility

Pigeons have multiplied in the rafters of Gander's salt storage facility. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Pigeons may be a common sight — and nuisance — in major cities, but they're a relatively new problem for Gander, where officials are not at all happy with avian visitors that have made a home out of a town depot. 

"They seem to be relatively prolific, if you give them a good nesting place and a source of food," said Gander mayor Percy Farwell.

Over the last decade, pigeons have nested in Gander's salt storage facility, to the point where they have now created a hazardous working environment town staff. 

"We have to deal with this issue here," said Farwell, "because our staff are being forced to come in and breathe the air in here and it's not the best place in the world to be." 

Farwell said the risks to staff who are exposed to the pigeons can be serious. 

"Typically it would be forms of lung infection and so on, that may or may not even be noticed depending on how severe it would be," he said. "There's two or three different diseases that are typical and we just need to eliminate that risk for our workers."

Prevention strategies

The Town of Gander is collaborating with animal services such as the SPCA, as well as pest control services to figure out the best way to remove the unwanted guests.

"There have been some efforts made around netting and mesh and stuff to try and keep them out of the rafters, but they'll always find other ways in," Farwell said.

Gander mayor Percy Farwell says the salt storage facility is becoming a hazardous work place due to the nesting pigeons. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

"The risk here too is if you notice a location where they're able to get in and you simply go and seal that up — well, now you've sentenced them to a death up there, because they can't get out."

Still, Farwell said pigeons are considered pests, which is a why a pest control company is being hired.

The CBC's Melissa Tobin talks to Gander Mayor Percy Farwell about the infestation of pigeons at the town's public works depot and how they plan to deal with the problem. 6:10

At some point soon, the company will start trapping and removing the birds. 

"We're trying right now to improve the situation for the benefit of the workers here and try to mitigate it the best we can at the new facility."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

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