City takes aim at pigeons

Downtown pigeons will get some special attention during an upcoming controlled “pigeon shoot.” This is their first warning.

By Seth Schmidt

The Tracy Police Department has been instructed to organize a controlled “pigeon shoot” in downtown Tracy later this summer, as a means of controlling the bird messes left on Third St. sidewalks.
The hunt would be held early in the morning, with a limited number of pre-registered hunters participating under rules set up by the police. No date has yet been set.
The Tracy City Council authorized the firearms pigeon control Monday, after City Administrator Madonna Peterson said she fielded complaints about the pigeons downtown, and the droppings they leave. Peterson said that according to the Minnesota Dept. of Health, the bird feces do not pose a risk to the public. However, roosting pigeons on and around Tracy are considered a public nuisance by ordinance, she said, and the droppings are unsightly.
A discussion involving the city administrator, Police Chief Jason Lichty, and the council turned up no easy solutions for minimizing downtown pigeon messes.
Trapping the birds and moving them to a new location wasn’t seen as a solution, since the pigeons were likely to simply return, since they have nearby sources of food and places to roost.
Poisoning the pigeons as a population control is illegal.
Shooting the birds might upset some people.
Pigeons breed rapidly, it was observed, and so any control methods would be temporary.
Lichty said that a pigeon shoot in Tracy wouldn’t be unprecedented. However, he said it had been “many years” since firearms had been used as pigeon control in Tracy.
The chief said that the only way to permanently get rid of the pigeon population would be to eliminate the roosts that they have on several downtown buildings. He said he has had some conversations with some property owners, about how that could be done.
Chukuske felt that getting rid of the pigeon roosts would be difficult considering the number of roosting sites in the downtown. In a couple of vacant buildings, Chukuske said that pigeons were roosting and flying inside.
As a hunter himself, Chukuske said he felt that firearms would be the best method for controlling pigeons. Such pigeon shoots, he said, would need to be done several times a year, in order to have an impact on pigeon populations.
Council members unanimously asked Lichty to proceed with the controlled pigeon hunt.
Peterson said she’d like the pigeon control to be a cooperative effort between property owners and the city, with those owning buildings taking steps to eliminate roosting sites.