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GULLS AND PIGEONS PECKING HUGE HOLE IN TAXPAYER'S PURSE

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The bill for protecting buildings and cleaning up the mess left by Britain's pigeon and gull population, is running...
The bill for protecting buildings and cleaning up the mess left by Britain's pigeon and gull population, is running to millions of pounds - according to environmental charity Tidy Britain Group.

And while many people think they're being kind to their feathered friends, feeding pigeons and gulls has lead to a spiralling, overfed and lazy urban bird population, whose droppings are damaging statues and monuments.

Together with Wirral MBC, Tidy Britain Group yesterday hosted a major urban bird conference in Wallasey. Representatives from the private and public sector heard how councils such as Bristol and Stoke are dealing with the problem. Andy Skelton from Scarborough BC also spoke to the conference about the way they have successfully controlled the amount of gulls nesting in buildings.

The boom in the pigeon population and the influx of gulls to town centres looking for food, has lead to a headache for those whose job it is to clean-up after them and has also created a public hygiene problem. Pigeons roosting in large numbers can pose a minor health risk. Food left out for birds can also attract rats.

Past methods of controlling the pigeon and gull population have included trapping them in nets, poisoning and even shooting them. But apart from being unpopular with the public, these methods have only stemmed the tide. The only way of truly controlling the urban bird population - is to encourage the public not to feed them.

When quizzed recently, members of the public in Birmingham, claimed they fed the birds, because..

- They thought they were being kind to animals

- They felt it was a good way of getting rid of wasted food

- For religious reasons

'Our message is simply this: Don't feed pigeons or gulls. It is taking money from the public purse, damaging historic monuments and buildings and most importantly creating an unnaturally high urban bird population - reliant on human beings and not nature, for their food' said Tidy Britain Group director general Graham Ashworth.

'This is a problem created by people. And it is a problem only people can solve.'

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