London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Lewisham 1953

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Lewisham Borough]

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and block plan and such detailed description and particulars of the work
to be carried out as may be necessary for the purpose of enabling the
authority to ascertain whether such work will be in accordance with
the statutory provisions relative thereto.
During the year 136 plans were submitted to the sanitary inspectors
for examination and approval.
Destruction of pigeons
Section 121 of the Public Health (London) Act, 1936, enables a
local authority to take steps for the purpose of abating or mitigating any
nuisance, annoyance or damage caused or which might be caused by
the congregation of pigeons which are as far as can be ascertained,
without an owner. The local authority is enabled to seize and destroy,
or sell or otherwise dispose of any such pigeons in excess of such
number as may be considered reasonable.
Complaints have been received from time to time of nuisance caused
by pigeons and it has been the practice to refer these complaints to a
bird catcher who has wherever possible, and without payment from
the Council, removed the offending birds by means of trapping. In the
early part of the year the official bird catcher stated that with the
improvement in the food situation he, and other professional bird
catchers, were finding that there was practically no market for the birds
when caught and that therefore there was little remuneration to be
obtained from this work. The suggestion that a fee should be paid by
the Council was not considered a sufficient inducement by the bird
catcher to continue his efforts and the Health Committee accordingly
decided that the staff of the health department should experiment with
various methods for catching pigeons.
The advice of the infestation branch of the Ministry of Agriculture
and Fisheries was sought on the matter generally and also specifically
with regard to equipment required, the training available and whether
many other local authorities undertook such work. It subsequently
transpired that only a few local authorities had had any communication
with the Ministry on this subject and we were advised that the only
three methods of dealing with pigeons which offered any hope of
success were shooting, trapping and the use of bird scaring machines.
The use of poison is illegal. Details of a cage trap to be baited with a
suitable bait were also given. The shooting of pigeons presents many
difficulties in towns and in any case Lewisham, in conjunction with
other metropolitan boroughs gave an undertaking some years ago not
to resort to this method.
A cage trap was therefore made and baited and a live decoy was also
used, but this method has not proved successful. Eggs have been
removed from nests and various other methods have been tried to
cope with the problem, but so far no marked success has been achieved.
We shall continue with our experiments in order to try and find a
satisfactory solution to this problem.

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