Pilot project introduces avian birth control to reduce pigeon population near SkyTrain stations in a humane way
VANCOUVER, BC — TransLink and the BC SPCA are teaming up to humanely reduce the pigeon population at VCC-Clark SkyTrain Station. An automatic bird feeder is dispensing birth control for a pilot project to control the pigeon population. OvoControl is a non-toxic, effective and humane contraception used in other cities to prevent pigeon reproduction and reduce populations naturally through attrition.
Pigeons cause problems at several SkyTrain stations despite TransLink’s best efforts to control them. TransLink has:
- Installed netting at stations to stop birds from getting into empty spaces
- Set up spikes and strips to deter pigeons from roosting on flat surfaces
- Hired a falconer to patrol stations with the most pigeons as part of another pilot project
Studies have shown a 50-90% population reduction in OvoControl managed pigeon populations. Pigeons that eat the bait pellets on a regular basis will not be able to fertilize eggs.
Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer with the BC SPCA explains pigeons can breed rapidly but their urban lifespans are short. With fewer new pigeons born, the pigeon population around SkyTrain stations will reduce naturally and cause fewer operational issues, “OvoControl has been approved for use by Health Canada and only has contraceptive effects in birds. Pigeons must eat their daily dose (5g/bird) for the contraceptive to work, and it is designed to be fed in a manner to maximize pigeon feeding behaviour. We are happy TransLink is ready to partner with us and research what could be a very effective and humane long-term solution.”
Pigeon droppings are messy, but the birds also put customer safety at risk. Pigeons trigger track intrusion alarms, causing our driver-less trains to brake automatically. These hard stops can lead to customer falls and service delays.
TransLink customers and the public can help by not feeding the birds. Outside foods sources encourage birds to roost inside stations and can draw pigeons away from the contraceptive pellets. It is vital for the success of the project that people stop feeding pigeons in this area.
The OvoControl pilot may be expanded to other stations if successful at VCC-Clark.
The innovative partnership between TransLink and the BC SPCA has been supported by other local animal groups:
Linda Bakker, Co-Executive Director, Wildlife Rescue Association –
“The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC supports this new initiative to humanely reduce the pigeon population. Wildlife Rescue strives to reduce human-wildlife conflict in the urban environment and rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife. This project aims to humanely reduce the number of pigeons at areas that have a lot of potential casualties and injuries in pigeons. This project will reduce the number of injured, deceased and orphaned pigeons in these areas. Wildlife Rescue supports the BC SPCA in promoting humane wildlife management practices.”
Michael Austin, Executive Director of the Vancouver Humane Society –
“While we continue to grow our wonderful city, it is important to consider the impact such developments have on urban wildlife; Vancouver Humane is pleased to support this initiative by TransLink and the BC SPCA to humanely control the pigeon population in order to reduce unnecessary suffering. We hope that other businesses can learn from this work and that more considerations are made for the non-human animals that live in our communities.”
TransLink is Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation authority and is the first North American transportation authority to be responsible for the planning, financing and managing of all public transit in addition to major regional roads and bridges.