German town votes to slaughter all pigeons in bizarre referendum

german town votes to slaughter all pigeons in bizarre referendum

A German town ahs voted for a major pigeon cull

A bizarre referendum result in Germany will lead to the mass slaughter of a town's pigeons.

It's no secret that pigeons, which some liken to the rats of the skies, are known globally as a pest and are one of the most unloved animals. The birds, which blot out city centre squares across the continent, are descendants of rock doves that were domesticated 10,000 years ago, making them strangely relaxed around people.

In one German town, the human-pigeon relationship has taken a murderous turn. Residents of Limburg an der Lahn in the western German state of Hessehas just voted to exterminate its population of 700 pigeons.

The referendum was called and held on June 9 after the city council's plot to slaughter the birds sparked an uproar in November 2023. More than 53 per cent of the residents cast 7,350 "yes" votes, calling for the pigeons to be culled, according to Der Spiegel.

“Today's result was unpredictable for us. The citizens have made use of their right and decided that the animals should be reduced by a falconer," Mayor Marius Hahn (SPD) told the German news site.

Over the next two years, the falconer will lure the birds into traps, bludgeon them to stun them before breaking their necks. Animal rights campaigners were outraged by the announcement. Limburg city pigeon project manager Tanya Muller told Sky News last year: “We live in 2023, it can’t be that we kill animals just because they annoy us, or they’re a nuisance. That’s not acceptable."

In addition to the animal cruelty issues, critics say the cull won't be effective as the remaining birds will pick up the slack, reproduce and replenish the population. Some studies have actually proved that pigeon numbers can increase after a cull.

Pigeon Action, a campaign group, has found an alternative solution in which citizens are warned against feeding the animals. They would also install pigeon lofts so that eggs could be easily removed.

The solution was trialled in Basel, Switzerland, which failed to reduce its population with a cull, while the latter scheme saw the population plunge by 50 per cent in just four years.

The Bavarian city of Augsburg implemented a similar model, in which pigeon lofts were installed and new eggs were swapped with dummies to keep numbers at a stable level.

In the UK, birds of prey have been introduced to pigeon-plagued areas to pick them off. But instead of unsightly white pigeon poo, Brits get to see the more grisly sight of carcasses instead.

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