Bowling for Columbidae: Reducing BCN's Pigeon Population
Topic: Too many pigeons.
How many is too many? According to the Generalitat, BCN's population of the cooing columbidae genus is currently believed to be about 85,000.
One pigeon for every 20 or so humans. Or one per every four hipsters. Doesn't sound so bad, really. The problem is the infections, parasites and diseases they carry around with them. The pigeons, that is.
Eg. Pigeon faeces carries over 60 forms of disease - known as zoonoses - which can be potentially harmful to humans.
How so: When droppings dry up they're carried into the air as dust particles ready to be inhaled. Meanwhile, without any serious rival on the urban landscape, the pigeon population can multiply very quickly. So to keep numbers down, the Ajuntament has come up with the idea of feeding them...anti-contraceptive pills.
Just sprinkle a bit of anticonceptivo in their birdseed then? There will be 40 special containers laced with the libido inhibitant nicarbazina distributed throughout the city, in what the Generalitat calls puntos conflictìvos.
Any precedent? Similar projects of contról etico (ie. non-genocidal population control) have been implemented in cities such as Geneva, but never one of Barcelona's size. Earlier this year it was announced Collserola's growing wild boar population would be controlled with libido-reducing chemical darts.
How did that go? It's an ongoing tusk.
Returning to pigeons: The Generalitat hopes Barcelona's paloma population will decrease by 70% over a four-year period.
Pigeons; going the way of the dodo? Actually, the dodo is a direct predecessor of the pigeon. But no, that's not at all likely. Why? Columbidae is one of the the most populous aviary species on the planet. The only places they're not found are certain parts of the Sahara, the Arctic and the Antarctic.
Palomas, interesting fact 1: In Spanish, 'paloma' refers to both pigeons and doves. Pigeon comes from the Latin pipio, which means 'chirp', while dove is a germanic word which describes the bird's diving technique.
Pigeons - interesting fact 2: Pigeons are not to be underestimated should a bellical situation transpire. Thirty two pigeons have been decorated with the British Dickin War Medal - awarded to animals displaying 'conspicuous gallantry or devotion to duty' serving in battle - while one French pigeon - undoubtedly sporting bushy whiskers - earned the Croix de Guerre for delivering a message which proved instrumental in saving the 77th Infantry Division during the First World War.
Pigeons, Food for Thought : There were three times more pigeons in Barcelona back in 2008 - over 250,000 - than there are today. So the pigeon community has already been diminishing considerably for years - before this latest cull even begins.