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Wahpeton mulls best way to deal with pigeon problem

WAHPETON -- Pigeons are making a mess for some downtown Wahpeton businesses, and city officials are mulling the best way to deal with the birds. "It's not necessarily a quantity problem," City Coordinator Shawn Kessel said. "It's more of a persis...

WAHPETON -- Pigeons are making a mess for some downtown Wahpeton businesses, and city officials are mulling the best way to deal with the birds.

"It's not necessarily a quantity problem," City Coordinator Shawn Kessel said. "It's more of a persistence problem. We've got pigeons who are very diligent and are able to enter unoccupied second-floor buildings."

An "ungodly amount" of pigeons infiltrated the space above Hairetage Hallmark before the store boarded up its broken second-floor windows, said sales associate Sherry Bendewald.

"At one point, it was so bad where you could actually hear them walking on the ceiling," she said. "Customers could hear the cooing sounds they make."

Kessel said pigeons are a concern because their feces can spread disease, and birds that die inside buildings also create health hazards.

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The city's Public Works Committee has looked at several options to control the pigeon population.

Poisoning them with laced food is probably the easiest method, but it's also the most indiscriminate, Kessel said.

"Anything or anybody who gets into that pile of food is at risk," he said.

Another option is to trap the birds and relocate or dispose of them, Kessel said, noting relocation can be difficult.

"I don't know a lot of people who are enamored by pigeons and would want them close to them," he said.

Shooting pigeons is time-consuming because they fly off when the first shot is fired and the shooter has to wait for them to return, he said.

Kessel said he was approached Tuesday by a California man with yet another option: a bird contraceptive.

Others locally have suggested throwing plastic snakes on the ground to scare off the pigeons, he said.

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Committee members are debating whether the city or property owner should pay for the bird-control method, Kessel said.

"I don't know that everyone is convinced that it's a public problem," he said.

The city's vector control fund has been identified as a potential source of funds in case the City Council deems the pigeons a public nuisance worth addressing, Kessel said.

Jim Oliver, executive vice president of the Wahpeton-Breckenridge Area Chamber of Commerce, said the city has handled the pigeon problem in the past, and he'd like to see the same happen now.

"It's just gotten out of control again," he said.

The Forum and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

Related Topics: WAHPETON
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