Give pigeons the bird
A plethora of pigeons in Shepton Mallet's town centre is ruffling the feathers of shoppers, traders and councillors.
Now Shepton district and town councillors Jeannette Marsh and Bente Height have launched a campaign to put an end to the problems of the pigeons who are plaguing the area with droppings.
They are worried the diseases pigeons carry could affect people. And they are appalled at the mess the birds create, ruining the appearance of the historic town centre.
The councillors also declare that "a mystery couple" who are frequently spotted leaving piles of food for the pigeons should be given the bird themselves and served with an ASBO – because of the unsavoury problems they are encouraging.
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Shopkeepers have deluged the two councillors with complaints. They say they constantly have to clean and disinfect areas outside their premises because of all the pigeon droppings.
And some of the cheeky birds regularly wander into the shops and leave nasty deposits behind.
Residents in flats above the shops have had pigeons flying off window sills into their homes and boldly strutting around their rooms – leaving more calling cards. And several people have been showered with pigeon poo as the birds swoop overhead.
The councillors want Mendip council and police to crack down on the couple who have been seen leaving piles of food for the birds. And they say the leftovers are now attracting rats and mice.
"The number of pigeons in the town centre is increasing. There were just a handful but now there are more than 50 causing all these problems," said Mrs Height.
"Not only do they carry awful diseases but all the mess they leave is spoiling the appearance of our town centre and well fed pigeons can lay up to six clutches of chicks a year. So the problems are only going to get worse unless something is done.
"The people who keep leaving the food for them should have an ASBO served on them," she declared.
Mrs Marsh said: "We have spoken to all the shopkeepers and they are totally behind our campaign. Some people say they actually feel intimidated by so many birds."
She added the droppings also caused a health hazard as several people have slipped up in the piles of poo, and gutters are being choked with the droppings.
The two councillors also point out the increased costs of cleaning the streets falls on the taxpayers.
The councillors believe educating people about the dangers of feeding and encouraging the birds is the answer.
They suggest finding a suitable site away from the town centre where people can feed the birds without causing problems and where they could nest in a proper dovecote and their eggs removed could be a solution too. That would create a healthier and controlled pigeon population as well as a cleaner, safer and disease free town centre.
What do you think is the answer to the pigeon problem in the town centre? E-mail your views to: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Editor, Shepton Mallet Journal, Southover, Wells, BA41UH