Pigeons put on birth control in Brussels


Brussels-City is testing a method of controlling the pigeon population by feeding the birds contraception-laced feed

Pigeons on the pill

Brussels-City has started a trial project to try to control the pigeon population. It involves providing the pigeons with feed laced with a contraceptive.

The municipality has been discussing the pigeon situation this year and what to do to control it. Authorities didn’t want to roll out a plan that was only going to make the pigeons move from Brussels-City to a neighbouring municipality.

One idea under discussion was the placing of dovecotes, where food and private nesting space would encourage pigeons to breed inside. Then their eggs are replaced with fake eggs. The other idea was to convince the public to stop feeding them, while simultaneously taking measures to limit their access to food.

In the end, contraception was considered more humane. The pilot project will consist of a feeder located on Clementinasquare on the east side of Park van Laken. Every day at the same time, the feeder will release grains laced with contraception.

Proven results

Some 600 Brussels residents concerned about the other suggested methods of pigeon control signed a petition this summer in favour of the method. The method is not without precedent: Leuven and Tongeren have installed such systems, and the results have been very positive, with pigeon populations falling substantially.

Brussels’ bird protection league, however, is not pleased. Aside from the fact that other kinds of birds would also eat the grain, it said, there wouldn’t be enough grain for all the pigeons that show up, so the biggest and strongest would eat it day after day.

The league also said that contraception methods only start working after two years, while the problem in Brussels is more urgent than that.

Photo: Hatim Kaghat/BELGA