Pigeon numbers in certain areas have fallen by 20% since the introduction of the measure, Source: Dave George / Unsplash

Brussels to curb the pigeon population with contraceptive corn

Brussels to curb the pigeon population with contraceptive corn

The policy has seen a three-year pilot implementation and is ready to expand to more locations in the Belgian capital

Authorities in the City of Brussels have decided to expand a pilot project for controlling the pigeon population. The project uses contraceptive corn dispersed on key bird-gathering spots like roofs and squares. The corn is deposited to the locations via automated machines. According to official statements, this has led to a drop of around 20% in the bird population so far.

Furthermore, the practice has now been adopted by the neighbouring municipality of Ixelles.  The aim is to install nine additional machines, each costing local authorities around 7,400 euros each.

Animal welfare organisations counselling local authorities

Brussels City Council launched the project to curb the pigeon population three years ago at Square Clementina in Laeken. With the initial success, they decided to gradually expand the initiative, with last years’ addition of Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerkplein and the roof of the Francisco Ferrer University of Applied Sciences on Anneessensplein – both meeting places for hundreds of pigeons.

Furthermore, the city received the help of ‘Vets for City Pigeons’, a collective of veterinarians who assisted in developing the right tools to control the population with animal welfare in mind. Together, they developed the automated dispenser, which gives out 350 grams of contraceptive corn seed in a specific zone.

Additionally, the corn is treated with Nicarbazine, a drug that helps against parasites in birds that also has a contraceptive effect. However, it only works for around four to six days and importantly, does not make the city birds permanently infertile. Moreover, it helps control the spread of avian diseases.

A spokesman for Zoubida Jellab, Alderwoman for Green Spaces, Public Cleanliness and Animal Welfare was quoted by La Captiale, explaining that between November 2021 and February 2022, the number of pigeons fell by around 20%. He attributed the drop to the bird dispensers, as an argument for expanding the practice.



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