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  • Rob


Limburg an der Lahn, a picturesque city in Hesse in western Germany, is grappling with a significant pigeon problem. Hundreds of pigeons have become such a nuisance that the locals are at their wits' end. These birds swarm Limburg's parks, annoy residents with their constant noise, and leave droppings everywhere.

In response, the local government recently voted on how to handle the situation, and the outcome was stark: Limburgers voted to eliminate every last pigeon in town. While an animal cull might not seem too unusual, the method Limburg plans to use is quite bizarre.

Limburg intends to hire a falconer to eradicate the estimated 700 to 1,000 pigeons. This might make sense if the falconer used falcons, but no such birds are involved. Instead, the falconer will build a large trap filled with enticing treats.

Once inside the trap, the falconer enters with a wooden club, stuns the pigeons by whacking them on the head, and then snaps their necks, more like execution than falconry.

However, the execution method was criticized by animal welfare organizations and activists. In response, the council held a referendum on June 9, asking Limburg's 36,000 residents if they supported the plan.

Of those who voted, 53% supported the city council's plan, with 7,530 votes in favour. Even the city council seemed surprised by the outcome. "Today's result was unpredictable for us. The citizens have used their right and decided that the animals should be reduced by a falconer," said Limburg mayor Marius Hahn.

Even if Limburg's 'falconer' begins his grim work, the city will unlikely be free of its pigeon problem. Past experiences suggest that simply killing pigeons is ineffective in controlling their population. For a cull to be successful, every pigeon needs to be eliminated simultaneously; otherwise, pigeons will replenish their numbers through breeding and new arrivals.

This was evident in Basel, Switzerland, where the city killed 100,000 pigeons annually between 1961 and 1985, yet the pigeon population remained the same. Basel eventually developed the Basel Method, which actually works.

Instead of killing the birds, Basel prevented their multiplying by warning residents against feeding pigeons and installing pigeon lofts where workers could dispose of the eggs. This approach reduced the pigeon population by half within four years and has been successfully adopted in other cities.


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