The humane live trapping of pigeons in downtown Hannibal will begin in the near future, according to Larry Hodson Jr., co-owner of Big River Pest Control.
The local company, which opened its doors in 2007, is awaiting a signed contract from the city before beginning its work. That’s a formality since the City Council approved the $5,500 agreement Tuesday night.
While some preliminary work must be done, Hodson says that will be a “fairly easy process.”
“We look forward to getting started and getting the problem taken care of,” he said.
Despite the negative publicity a proposed reduction in the city’s pigeon population received initially, Big River Pest Control was not scared off.
“As a pest control company it’s our responsibility and civic duty to provide a service where we can,” said Hodson. “Pigeons are not a protected species, they’re a nuisance pest. When the city contacted us looking for a different solution other than poisoning, we looked at trapping. And we’ve got a couple of breeders interested in the pigeon population, so this was a good solution to both parties.”
Breeders the captured birds will be given are in the “tri-state area,” according to Hodson.
“I was surprised there was that much of a use for pigeons,” he said.
At no time will poison be used to reduce the local flock, which Hodson estimates could range between 500 and 1,000 birds.
“There will be no alarm baits; there will be no poison. First and foremost we will be doing non-lethal trapping and relocating them to pigeon breeders,” he said. “As a last resort in some areas that are inaccessible to trapping and where there is still a pigeon flock, there may be some shooting with air rifles.”
While the use of air rifles is a method of pigeon disposal that is approved by both the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hodson stressed that his personnel will “try and steer away from that as much as we can.”
“Most of what we are going to do is trap them with non-poisonous methods and then turn them over to pigeon breeders,” he said.
The traps, which can capture multiple birds at once, will be scattered throughout town.
“There’s multiple locations, downtown and in a couple of locations that aren’t downtown, but we have identified as spots where pigeons are roosting and nesting quite a bit,” said Hodson.
To access some of the privately-owned sites permission from property owners is being sought. According to City Manager Jeff LaGarce the people he has talked to have been helpful.
Page 2 of 2 - “I’ve had the opportunity to speak with two of the three building owners where rooftop traps will be required. Both are cooperative and we are very grateful for this. The third, I have been unable to reach,” he said.
Big River Pest Control’s proposal to the city estimated a noticeable reduction in the pigeon population will be seen within a couple of months.
“We’re hopeful that we can get the success we’re looking for in 60 days. I’m not going to say that 60 days from today every pigeon downtown is going to be gone. It may be a process,” he said. “We’ve got the weather to deal with as well. If we get a bunch of snow next week it’s going to hamper our accessibility to some of the locations we need to get to. With everything being the way it is today weather-wise, we’re hopeful 60 days will get it taken care of.”
Hodson says the city’s problem will be resolved.
“The city came to us looking for a solution to the pigeons and we’ve got a good solution to the problem. I feel confident we can come up with the results they’re looking for,” he said.