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Rocky Mount eyes falconer's skills for pigeon problem
A North Carolina man has pitched his services to help thin out a growing pigeon population.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Pigeons with a knack for self-preservation tend to skedaddle when hawks and falcons show up.
But that does not mean that the pesky birds some consider “flying rats” won’t flock right back once the roost is clear.
That’s why Charles “Chip” Gentry, owner and operator of Hawk Manor Falconry in Lillington, N.C., has suggested a combination of live trapping and “night hawking” to eliminate pigeons congregating in the heart of Rocky Mount in the vicinity of the Exchange Milling Co. feed mill and The Hub restaurant.
Gentry, who describes himself as a master falconer, is president of the North Carolina Falconer’s Guild.
Members of the Rocky Mount Town Council are scheduled to review Gentry’s “pigeon abatement” proposal during the council’s regular meeting Monday night. Gentry has quoted a price of $4,980.80 and said efforts to eliminate the majority of the pigeons would take about a week.
“I feel as though we should have no problem eliminating at least 90 percent of the pigeons at this location,” Gentry wrote.
He offered to throw in a school presentation about birds of prey while in Rocky Mount.
Town Manager James Ervin said Thursday that residual feed at Exchange Milling can attract nuisance pigeons and vermin. Droppings from pigeons congregating nearby end up creating a mess that is unsightly for patrons of The Hub restaurant, he said.
Droppings that accumulate over time beneath pigeon roosts provide a growth medium for a fungus whose airborne spores can threaten human health.
Ervin emphasized that the town “really likes” having the mill and the nearby restaurant downtown because the businesses are part of Rocky Mount’s history.
He said the town is willing to help eliminate pigeons and vermin when the need arises every few years. He said he has been town manager for about five years and that this would be the first time during his tenure for a pigeon abatement campaign.
Ricky Harrell, a co-owner of The Hub restaurant, declined to comment. A woman who answered the phone at Exchange Milling said no one there cared to comment.
Gentry said Friday that he has been involved in bird abatement projects in downtown Charlotte and at hospitals, airports and shopping centers. He said he has targeted pigeons, European starlings and Canada geese.
He charged the town $400 to visit Rocky Mount and study the pigeon problem downtown. That fee will be subtracted from the contract cost if the town hires him.
Gentry said he will probably bring a peregrine falcon, a Harris hawk and maybe an aplomado falcon to harass the pigeons in Rocky Mount. He said he will tether the birds near the pigeons’ roosts to discourage the pigeons from gathering there. He said his raptors also will hunt the birds.
He will take live-trapped pigeons home with him, Gentry said, where he will use them in training for his birds of prey.
“Hawks and falcons don’t live on grass and sunflower seeds,” he said.
Most of the work will be done discreetly at night, Gentry proposed.
Chad Fox, a Christiansburg-based wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the integrated approach proposed by Gentry, combining harassment and hunting by the raptors with live trapping, “is probably a good strategy” for the town.
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