Pigeon Pest Control and the Law

DETAILED GUIDE

This page contains both a detailed guide to pigeon pest control and the law and a quick guide located further down the page.

Animal Welfare Act 2006The control of feral pigeons and all other wild birds in the UK is legislated by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), courtesy of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Chapter 69). The Act deals with all matters relating to the management of wildlife, the provision of licences and wildlife conservation. Although DEFRA oversees and legislates where all issues relating to the management of wildlife in the UK are concerned, it does not provide any type of ‘pigeon pest control’ service nor is it responsible for problems caused by wild birds. The responsibility for dealing with problems caused by wild birds is the sole preserve of the property or landowner concerned.DEFRA DEFRA publishes a wide variety of advisory leaflets designed to provide advice to the general public and, should the specific problem not be covered in a DEFRA publication, specialist wildlife advisors are available to discuss the problem in as much detail as necessary. All information relating to the control of wild birds can be sourced from the DEFRA website at: www.defra.co.uk.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is defined on the DEFRA website as follows:

“An Act to repeal and re-enact with amendments The Protection of Birds Act 1954 to 1967 and the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975; to prohibit certain methods of killing or taking wild animals; to amend the law relating to protection of certain mammals; to restrict the introduction of certain animals and plants; to amend the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976; to amend the law relating to nature conservation; the countryside and National Parks to make provision with respect to the Countryside Commission; to amend the law relating to public rights of way; and for connected purposes.”

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is a long and detailed document that covers a wide variety of issues of which the pigeon pest control (and all other birds) is only one. The average person requiring guidance in respect of how to resolve a pigeon-related problem within the terms and conditions of the Act may find difficulty accessing the relevant section. Similarly, identifying the most appropriate person to speak to at DEFRA may be equally difficult and time consuming due to the sheer size of the organisation and the large number of departments and sections contained within it. This document, therefore, is designed to provide the layman with an overview of the law relating to the control of feral pigeons and what actions can and cannot be taken to ensure that the controls provided fall within the scope of the law. It should also be noted that although pigeon pest control companies provide professional pigeon pest control services, it is not always the case that contractors are familiar with the law or can be relied upon to advise in respect of the law. It is, therefore, important to confirm any advice provided by a pest control contractor with DEFRA, the Pigeon Control Resource Centre prior to instructing the contractor, particularly if lethal controls or bird exclusion products have been recommended. It should also be noted that any action taken to control birds on a property is the legal responsibility of the property owner and not the contractor that is instructed. If a contractor breaks the law whilst acting on behalf of the client, and on the client’s property, it is the client that will be held legally responsible for the actions of the contractor.

Where the control of feral pigeons is concerned the The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 only provides specific advice for the use of lethal controls or for the removal and destruction of nests and/or chicks. In all matters relating to the protection of buildings with deterrents it is the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (formally the 1911 Protection of Animals Act) that is currently considered to be the more appropriate legislation. This is because the Animal Welfare Act 2006 deals with issues relating to cruelty or unnecessary suffering (deliberate or unintended), and although cruelty and unnecessary suffering is commonly associated with culling operations, it is more commonly associated with the installation of deterrents. An example of this might be where birds have become trapped behind nylon bird netting installed on a building (or under a bridge) and died of starvation as a result. If the property owner was challenged and faced prosecution on the grounds of cruelty and/or unnecessary suffering the legislation likely to be used would be the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and not the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, entitled ‘Protection of Wild Birds, their Nests and Eggs’, confirms the following:

  • Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally:
    • kills, injures or takes any wild bird;
    • takes, damages or destroys the nest of any wild bird while that nest is in use or being built; or
    • takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird, he shall be guilty of an offence.
  • Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person has in his possession or control:
    • any live or dead wild bird or any part of, or anything derived from such a bird; or
    • an egg of any wild bird or any part of such an egg, he shall be guilty of an offence
  • A person shall not be guilty under subsection (2) if he shows that –
    • the bird or egg not been killed or taken, or had been killed or taken otherwise than in contravention of the relevant provisions; or
    • the bird, egg or other thing in his possession or control had been sold (whether to him or any other person) otherwise than in contravention of those provisions; and in this subsection ”the relevant provisions” means the provisions of this Part and of orders made under it and, in the case of a bird or another thing falling within subsection (2) (a), the provisions of the Protection of Birds Act 1954 to 1967 and of orders made under those Acts.
  • Any person convicted of an offense under subsection (1) or (2) in respect of –
    • a bird included in Schedule 1 or any part of, or anything derived from, such a bird;
    • the nest of such a bird; or
    • an egg of such a bird or any part of such an egg, shall be liable to a special penalty.
  • Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person intentionally –
    • disturbs any wild bird in Schedule 1 while it is building a nest or is in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young; or
    • disturbs dependent young of such a bird, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a special penalty.
  • In this section ‘wild bird’ does not include any bird which is shown to have been bred in captivity.
  • Any reference in this Part to any bird included in Schedule 1 is a reference to any bird included in Part 1 and, during the close season for the bird in question, any bird included in Part 2 of that schedule.

This extract from Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 simply confirms that it is illegal to kill or to injure a wild bird or to interfere with a nesting bird, its eggs or its nest. The exception to this rule is where a species is listed under the relevant General Licences as a bird that can be taken (in this context meaning killed), providing that the criteria of the Licence concerned is adhered to. A full list of General Licences can be found on the DEFRA website, but the General Licences that are most relevant to the control of feral pigeons can be accessed via the following link: http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/vertebrates/gen-licence.htm Specifically, these Licences are: WLF18/WLF100085/WLF100087/WLF100088. It is worth noting that older versions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act may be out of date in respect of information relating to the control of a specific bird and therefore it is extremely important to access up to date information from the DEFRA website. It should also be noted that the General Licences are not physical Licences for which an application to DEFRA has to be made. Any person that controls feral pigeons on their property must simply adhere to the terms and conditions of the relevant Licence and satisfy themselves that the criteria outlined within it applies to their particular problem and to the specific controls that they intend to use to resolve it.

The General Licences allow for certain birds to be killed and for their nests to be removed by an authorised person, providing that the terms and conditions of the licence are adhered to. The feral pigeon appears on the list of birds that can be taken.

  • Birds that are listed on the relevant General Licence can only be killed if they represent a demonstrable risk to public health and safety.
  • Birds cannot be killed or their nests interfered with under the relevant General Licence in order to protect the fabric of a building.
  • The General Licences can only be acted upon in circumstances where the authorised person is satisfied that all non-lethal methods of control (installation of deterrents or scaring devices) are likely to fail or are impracticable. The authorised person must be able to demonstrate, if legally challenged, which non-lethal methods of control have been tried and found to fail and why these methods have failed.

An authorised person, as defined in Part 1, subsection 27 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, is as follows:

  • The owner or occupier, or any person authorised by the owner or occupier, of the land on which the action authorised is taken
  • Any person authorised in writing by the local authority for the area within in which the action authorised is taken
  • As respects anything done in relation to wild birds, any person authorised in writing by any of the following bodies, that is to say, The Nature Conservancy Council, a water authority or any other statutory water undertakers, a district board for a fishery district within the meaning of the Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1862 or a local fisheries committee constituted under the Sea Fisheries Regulation Act 1966

Loosely translated this means that any property owner experiencing entrenched problems with feral pigeons on his/her property can instruct an agent or contractor to kill pigeons and destroy nests on that specific site or building, providing that the terms and conditions of the relevant General Licence are fully met. Should the authorised person be unable to demonstrate that the problems being experienced have resulted in, or are likely to result in, a risk to public health or safety, or that all methods of non-lethal control have been tried and have failed, the action to kill birds would not be allowed under the terms and conditions of the General Licences and would be deemed illegal as a result. The owner/occupier would then be liable for prosecution.

The General Licences are self-regulatory and can be acted under at any time without the need to make a specific application, but the terms and conditions of the Licence must be adhered to at all times, otherwise the Licence will be null and void and the action illegal.

As the General Licences are self-regulatory the policing of the Act is something of a grey area with DEFRA, the author of the Act, taking little or no responsibility for the prosecution of offenders. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is known as a Common Enforcers’ Act, which means that anybody can bring a prosecution against any individual or company that has compromised the terms and conditions of the Act. No specific body, however, is identified as being authorised to police or take RSPCA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animalsaction against those compromising the terms and conditions of the Act, thereby offering little or no protection for pest species of birds listed within it. The Police and the RSPCA are the two organisations most commonly approached when a wildlife crime has been committed against birds, but neither organisation has the time, resources or, in most cases, the expertise to bring a prosecution. The Police have a register of Wildlife Liaison Officers, all of whom have a personal interest in wildlife, but the position is voluntary and wildlife liaison duties are undertaken over and above normal duties. The Metropolitan Police have a Wildlife Crime Unit located at New Scotland Yard, which is designed to deal with any and all issues relating to wildlife crime. The unit is inevitably overworked with inadequate resources and therefore cannot be relied upon to respond to issues relating to crime against feral pigeons. The Wildlife Crime Unit can be contacted on: Tel: 0207 -230-3641; Fax: 0207 230 4020; Web: http://www.met.police.uk/wildlife/index.htm.

The terms and conditions of the General Licences are never more regularly and openly abused than in respect of feral pigeon pest control. Thousands of pigeons are killed by pest control companies every day in the UK, acting on behalf of property owners and as authorised persons by default. In a vast majority of cases the pigeon-related problems being experienced are minor, with no demonstrable health and safety implication, and can be resolved with relative ease by installing deterrents or scaring devices. The cost of installing deterrents may be considerable, however, particularly if the property is extensive with numerous architectural features upon which feral pigeons commonly perch and roost. In these circumstances pest control companies will often recommend lethal control in the form of shooting, cage trapping and killing operations due to the fact that these methods of control, although ineffective in anything other than the short-term, will cost significantly less than protecting the property with deterrents. Clearly, in these cases the culling operation cannot, under any circumstances, be considered to be “…for the preservation of public health and public safety” and therefore the cull would be in direct contravention of the terms and conditions of the relevant General Licences and as a result would be illegal. Due to the complete lack of policing, however, the likelihood is that the (illegal) cull would go unnoticed and the property owner would escape prosecution.

Another way in which the legality of feral pigeon pest control is brought into question is in relation to the entrapment of birds subsequent to the installation of bird exclusion devices, often nylon bird netting. Nylon bird netting is one of the most commonly used bird exclusion products, with pest control contractors recommending the product widely due to its profitability. There are many problems inherent with its use, however, the most common being the potential for pigeons (and other birds) to become trapped behind or within the netting. This may happen because the netting was poorly installed, because it has not been maintained or because it is old and has degraded. Whatever the reason, huge numbers of pigeons become trapped behind or within nylon bird netting every year and yet it is almost unheard of for a property owner to be prosecuted as a result. Due to the fact that the Wildlife and Countryside Act is a Common Enforcers’ Act, however, any member of the public that sees dead or dying pigeons hanging in or trapped behind nylon bird netting can bring a private prosecution against the property owner concerned and, in some cases, the installation contractor. The prosecution would use the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and be brought on the grounds of unnecessary suffering.

Unnecessary suffering is defined in section 4, paragraph 18 of the Explanatory Notes section of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 as:

The 1911 Act makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animal, with limited exceptions including suffering caused under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The 1911 Act has formed the basis for most prosecutions concerning animal cruelty and has been amended by several subsequent Acts. The provisions of the 1911 Act no longer reflect modern practice. Excepting the restriction to vertebrates, this section is intended to replicate the protection provided by the 1911 Act, but to simplify and update the legislation.

The way in which the courts would determine whether unnecessary suffering had occurred or was occurring is outlined in section 4, paragraph 21, subsection (3) of the Animal Welfare Act 2006:

Subsection (3) sets out considerations to which the courts should have regard in determining whether the suffering is unnecessary. Considerations focus on the necessity, proportionality, humanity and competence of the conduct. The court should take all relevant considerations into account, weighing them against each other as appropriate. Where, for example, a horse suffers while being used for the purpose of riot control, this may well be considered necessary for the purposes of protecting persons or property (one of the considerations specified in the section). Or, where legitimate pest control activities entail an animal suffering, a court may consider whether this was in compliance with a relevant enactment, for a legitimate purpose, and proportionate to that purpose. The court would also consider the extent to which the suffering could reasonably have been avoided or reduced (another of the considerations specified in the section). Where suffering inevitably occurs in the course of complying with any regulations, licence or code of practice an offence would not normally be committed.

It is always the responsibility of the property owner to satisfy themselves that feral pigeon pest controls provided on their property are not only appropriate (and will resolve the problem being experienced) but also conform to the terms and conditions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. As with all legislation, ignorance of the law (in this case the terms and conditions of the General Licences is no defence.

In summary, the law is quite specific where the control of feral pigeons is concerned, but due to the complete lack of infrastructure available to police the Wildlife and Countryside Act (specifically, the terms and conditions of the General Licences) it is, in reality, a relatively toothless and pointless piece of legislation.

Any piece of legislation that is designed to be acted under in good faith will be open to wholesale abuse, certainly in terms of compliancy.

It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that few if any prosecutions are brought against those acting outside the terms and conditions of the General Licences.

The terms and conditions of the General Licences are clear: if pigeons are killed as a method of control without all non-lethal options being tried and found to fail, the action is illegal. If pigeons are killed to protect a property rather than “…for the preservation of public health and public safety”, the action is illegal. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is also clear: if pigeons become trapped behind any bird exclusion device and allowed to die or suffer, the action is illegal. If pigeons are allowed to suffer during a control operation for any reason, the action is illegal. Of course, it is always for the courts to decide whether an action is illegal and therefore whether a punishment is meted out as a result. In most cases, however, certainly where the feral pigeon is concerned, the law offers little if any protection from deliberate abuse or cruelty as a result of commercial ignorance or greed.

In a vast majority of cases pigeons can be controlled within the terms and conditions of the General Licences without resorting to (potentially illegal) culls, but this will not always be in the best interests of the pest control industry. Large buildings are expensive to protect using the most profitable products (nylon bird netting and post and wire systems) and most property owners will baulk at having to spend tens of thousands of pounds to have products installed that degrade quickly and will need to be replaced regularly. In an effort to sell the client a service, any service, contractors will often recommend culling operations that may be illegal, and which will certainly not resolve the client’s problem, but which are relatively inexpensive. What the property owner must understand is that they cannot blindly take advice from a contractor and assume that the advice provided, and the service recommended, is legal and falls within the terms and conditions of the relevant General Licences. Culling will never resolve a pigeon-related problem and yet thousands of culls are undertaken every day of the week throughout the UK, and in most cases property owners are completely unaware that it is they that are responsible for ensuring that the cull is legal, not the contractor that recommends and carries it out.

If in doubt about the law where pigeon pest control is concerned, or if a control has been recommended and advice is required in respect of whether that control is either necessary, legal or cost effective, please contact the Pigeon Control Resource Centre for advice. Both organisations will always offer commercially unbiased and expert advice and will, wherever possible, provide alternative and cost-effective control options.

QUICK GUIDE

The legality of pigeon pest control is constantly brought into question as a result of the fact that the legislation to which we all have to adhere is complex and written in such a way that it is virtually impossible for the layman to understand. It is also the case that most contractors are unaware of the terms and conditions under which they are required to act in order to provide controls that are within the scope of the law. Therefore, in many cases, neither the client nor the contractor is really aware of what actions can be legally taken to control pigeons and, as a result, a very considerable number of pigeon pest control operations fall outside the law.

Anybody that experiences a pigeon-related problem should be aware that whether they deal with the problem themselves, or whether they instruct a contractor to provide controls on their behalf, the responsibility to ensure that those controls are legal lies with them and not the contractor. It is a common misconception that if a contractor provides controls on behalf of a third party it is the contractor that is held legally liable should the law be compromised – this is not the case; it is the responsibility of the owner of the property upon whose site or building those controls are provided. A document called the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the main piece of legislation to which everybody has to adhere when controlling pigeons, whether they are a property owner or a pest control contractor. To an extent, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 also comes into play, certainly in relation to any issues relating to unnecessary suffering or cruelty.

Should lethal controls be considered, either provided by the property owner concerned or by a pest control contractor, the terms and conditions of the General Licences must be fully understood and adhered to at all times. The General Licences can be viewed by clicking the following link to the DEFRA website. Specifically, these Licences are: WLF18/WLF100085/WLF100087/WLF100088. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) produces and oversees the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the General Licences. If lethal controls are to be used they must be provided by the property owner or an Authorised Person acting on behalf of, and with permission from, the property owner.

General Licences are self-regulatory and can be acted upon at any time without the need to make a specific application, providing that the terms and conditions of the Licence are fully met, otherwise the action would be illegal and may result in prosecution for the property owner concerned.

In order to undertake a culling operation, and to ensure that the action falls within the scope of the law, the property owner must be able to demonstrate, to a court of law if necessary, the following:

  • The pigeon-related problems being experienced have resulted in, or are likely to result in, a demonstrable risk to public health or safety.
  • That all non-lethal methods of control have been tried and found to fail – this refers mainly to the installation of deterrents. The property owner (not the contractor) will need to actively demonstrate that any deterrents that have been installed and subsequently failed were installed correctly and according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Culling cannot be used as a method of control simply because pigeons are causing damage to a property through fouling. Culling for this purpose would always be illegal.

It is incumbent on any property owner that experiences a pigeon-related problem to completely satisfy themselves that the controls provided on their property are legal and do not compromise any piece of current legislation, we therefore strongly recommend that you read the more detailed guide.

This quick guide is designed to be used by the property owner who is experiencing pigeon-related problems and who wishes to ensure that any action taken, either by themselves or on their behalf, is not only legal but will resolve the problem that they are experiencing. In an effort to simplify this complex issue we have set out details. We will confirm what controls would be legal, what controls/deterrents may be appropriate and the possible source of the problem.

Chimney Breast or Chimney Pot:

It is rare for feral pigeons to cause problems on chimney pots and chimney breasts and they never nest in chimney pots. Many property owners experience problems with noise (normally cooing) down their chimneys, particularly in the spring and summer. This is normally as a result of wood pigeons or collared doves (ring-necked doves) perching on the chimney and cooing as part of a mating display. It is virtually unheard of for either species to nest in a chimney pot, as both birds nest almost exclusively in trees. Please see the DIY Controls page for further details of how controls can be provided without resorting to commercially available products:

  • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that deterrents such as chimney spikes and chimney cowls are 100% effective and because there is no threat to public health or safety.
  • Deterrents: Chimney spikes or a chimney cowl or chimney cap.
  • Source: Vantage point to attract a mate during the breeding period or possibly as an indicator that pigeons are breeding/roosting on/in the property or on a neighbouring property.

Ridge Tiles:

It is not uncommon for pigeons to perch on ridge tiles on the apex of a roof. In most cases pigeons are there for one of two reasons: because they are using the ridge tiles as a vantage point to exploit a food source or because they are roosting/and or breeding within/on the property concerned or on an adjacent property. Please see the DIY Controls page for further details of how controls can be provided without resorting to commercially available products:

Roof Tiles:

This is one area of a property that is almost impossible to protect, although some pigeon pest control contractors will recommend nylon bird netting to protect the tiles of a roof. Nylon bird netting is not an effective or cost-effective means of protecting the tiles of a roof. Pigeons will normally perch on the tiles in order to use the roof as a vantage point to exploit a food source or because they are roosting/breeding in the property concerned or upon a neighbouring property:

  • Culling: Even though there is no effective means of protecting the tiles of a roof, culling would be illegal due to the fact that there is no threat to public health or safety – culling cannot be used to protect the fabric of a building.
  • Deterrents: Nylon bird netting is an option but anyone considering this option should first read the Nylon Bird Netting product review.
  • Source: Vantage point to exploit a food source or an indictor that pigeons are breeding/roosting on/in the property or on a neighbouring property.

Guttering:

Pigeons will occasionally roost or even build nests in guttering, but in a majority of cases where this is happening the piece of gutter concerned will be protected by the overhang of a roof. Pigeons rarely ever roost overnight in areas where there is no protection from the elements. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how controls can be provided without resorting to commercially available products:

  • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that anti-roosting products such as Defender Gutter Spikes™ with the unique attaching clip are 100% effective. There are numerous alternative products that will protect a span of guttering, but the only product that is 100% effective in respect of protecting the gutter itself and the leading edge of the gutter is the Defender Gutter Spike™.
  • Deterrents: Defender Gutter Spike™.
  • Source: Potential source of roosting/breeding opportunities or an indicator that pigeons are breeding/roosting on/in the property or on a neighbouring property.

Hoppers:

Pigeons are commonly attracted to hoppers (the square box at the top of a downpipe) for the purpose of nesting and roosting, particularly cast iron hoppers on period properties. A hopper represents a good receptacle for breeding as the nest is protected from predation on all 4 sides. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how controls can be provided without resorting to commercially available products:

Soffit:

Although pigeons will use soffits for the purpose of overnight roosting and breeding, the only circumstance where this is likely to be the case is where the soffit has become damaged or where an older wooden soffit has rotted, in both cases allowing pigeons access. A soffit will provide pigeons with the ultimate breeding facility as it is provided at height, free from any type of predation and fully protected from the elements. A soffit cannot be easily protected with deterrents and in a majority of cases the only practical means of resolving the problem is to access the entire length of the soffit, to ensure that all juvenile and flightless birds are safely removed, and then either make repairs or replace the soffit. Please see the DIY Controls document for further detail of how this can be achieved:

Gable End:

The gable end of a building, particularly on period properties, is a commonly-used overnight roosting site for pigeons. In some cases, depending on the architecture of the gable, pigeons may also use the gable for breeding. In both cases the problem can be easily resolved by installing deterrents. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how protection can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:

  • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that the problem can be resolved by the installation of deterrents that are 100% effective combined with the fact that there is no threat to public health or safety.
  • Deterrents: Anti-roosting spikes can be installed onto joists that protrude through the side wall of the building and support the overhang of the roof – it is on these that pigeons will roost or nest. An alternative would be to install wire mesh to the underside of the joists by stapling in situ. Either option will be 100% effective.
  • Source: Exclusively overnight roosting and breeding.

Dormer Windows:

Although it is not common, pigeons do occasionally roost overnight beneath the roof overhang of a dormer window, normally perching on the lead flashing. The roof overhang offers protection against the elements. In most cases pigeons will only use dormer windows as a temporary roost when, for example, they have been excluded from their permanent roost. It is highly unlikely that pigeons would breed in these areas due to the pitch of the roof, although it is extremely common for pigeons to access internal roof voids through gaps that have been left during the construction process. Pigeon-related problems can be completely resolved by the installation of anti-perching products. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:

  • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that roosting-related problems can be completely resolved by installing anti-roosting spikes combined with the fact that there is no threat to public health or safety.
  • Deterrents: Anti-roosting spikes can be easily installed onto the lead flashing on either side of a dormer window and would be 100% effective.
  • Source: Almost exclusively overnight roosting.

Roof Void or Attic Space:

It is common to find that pigeons have accessed the internal roof void of a building for the purpose of overnight roosting and breeding. Although this problem is more common in disused or derelict buildings, it is not uncommon for a property owner to find that pigeons have accessed the roof void of an occupied property via a slipped tile. In these circumstances the birds will need to be physically removed, with particular emphasis on juvenile and flightless birds, before any works can be undertaken to resolve the source of the problem. It would be illegal to simply block the hole without first undertaking an exhaustive survey of the void in order to identify and remove flightless birds. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved:

  • Culling: In order for a cull to be legal in this type of situation the property owner would have to demonstrate that the resident pigeons were causing a demonstrable risk to human health. This is highly unlikely, as in a vast majority of cases human residents in the property are completely unaware that they have pigeons in the roof void and therefore it would be virtually impossible to prove a genuine risk to human health. It is also the case that the problem can be resolved using non-lethal means and therefore a cull would be illegal on these grounds as well.
  • Deterrents: Not applicable.
  • Source: Exclusively overnight roosting and breeding.

Windowsills:

Windowsills are one of the most common areas of a building upon which pigeons regularly perch or roost. Although daytime perching and overnight roosting are the most common problems, a pair of pigeons will sometimes breed on a windowsill, particularly at the rear of a building or in a secluded or little-used area, such as a light well. The problem can be resolved cheaply and easily with deterrents, most of which can be installed by the property owner. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:
  • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that deterrents such as anti-roosting spikes are 100% effective in this application.
  • Deterrents: There are numerous commercially available anti-perching systems designed to protect a windowsill, including post and wire systems, electric shock systems, barrier systems (such as Barrier Coil) and repellent gel. All of these systems, with the possible exception of Barrier Coil in certain circumstances, are expensive and tend to degrade rapidly, requiring constant replacement. The most effective and cost-effective anti-perching system for a windowsill is the anti-roosting spike, which is 100% effective if provided as per manufacturer’s recommendations. The Defender range of anti-roosting spikes even offers an ingenious spike that can be used on windows that open outwards with little clearance over the sill.
  • Source: Vantage point to exploit a food source and commonly used for overnight roosting and occasionally breeding.
  • Exposed External Pipework:

    Pigeons will commonly roost overnight on exposed pipework, normally provided on the side wall of a building or residence. It is rare to find that pigeons have built a nest on exposed pipework, particularly on a residential building where exposed pipework is normally narrow and not extensive. On commercial buildings this is not the case, however, with larger diameter pipes often providing excellent nesting opportunities. In both cases exposed pipes can be easily and cheaply protected with deterrents. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:

    • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that deterrents such as pipe-spikes are 100% effective.
    • Deterrents: There are several commercially available anti-perching products to resolve roosting-related problems on exposed external pipework, such as post and wire systems and even nylon bird netting, but the only effective and cost-effective option is the pipe-spike. The Defender range of anti-roosting spikes offers a pipe-spike with integral cable ties, which allows the property owner to undertake a quick and completely effective installation.
    • Source: Exclusively overnight roosting and occasional breeding.

    Balconies:

    Pigeons are attracted to balconies, particularly on high-rise buildings, due to the fact that the average balcony will provide a pair of pigeons with an optimum breeding site. A vast majority of problems experienced on balconies are as a result of breeding, but overnight roosting can also be a problem. On high-rise apartment blocks it is extremely common to find that balconies are also used as a vantage point for the purpose of exploiting a food source. Balconies can be protected from pigeons by installing deterrents and anti-perching products. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:

    • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that virtually any balcony can be fully protected with anti-perching or bird exclusion products that would be 100% effective.
    • Deterrents: There are numerous anti-perching and bird exclusion products on the market that will allow a property owner to completely protect a balcony from perching or roosting. These include nylon bird netting, post and wire systems, anti-roosting spikes and Barrier Coil as well as several DIY options. Which option to choose is entirely dependent on the balcony type, the size and location of the building and the problem being experienced.
    • Source: Overnight roosting, breeding and as a vantage point to exploit a food source.

    Light Wells:

    Light wells are an extremely common source of pigeon-related problems based on the fact that they are often secluded areas with little if any human activity, the main criteria for roosting or breeding pigeons. Light wells are commonly used for both overnight roosting and breeding. The most common method of excluding pigeons from a light well is to net the entire well with nylon bird netting, but this method of exclusion can be fraught with problems to say nothing of the cost of the product. If considering nylon bird netting as a means of excluding pigeons from a light well we strongly recommend that you read the Nylon Bird Netting product review before making any decision. In a vast majority of cases anti-perching products can be provided at a fraction of the cost of nylon bird netting and which will be 100% effective. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:

    • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that virtually any light well can be fully protected with anti-perching or bird exclusion products that would be 100% effective. It is also the case that it would be highly unlikely that there would be a demonstrable threat to public health or safety.
    • Deterrents: There are numerous anti-perching and bird exclusion products available to resolve roosting and breeding problems in light wells, many of which will be completely effective. The most effective and cost-effective means of protecting a light well is to protect all surfaces upon which roosting is taking place with anti-roosting spikes – these areas could be windowsills, guttering, hoppers, architectural features and all types of ‘housings’, including air conditioning housings and air extractor units.
    • Source: Exclusively overnight roosting and breeding.

    Flat roofs:

    It is extremely uncommon to find pigeons roosting or breeding on flat roofs other than when they are under some type of housing – i.e. an air conditioning unit with enough clearance to allow a pigeon to access the space between the base of the unit and the roof. It is, however, common to find pigeons using a flat roof area as a vantage point to exploit a food source or possibly because pigeons are roosting overnight in other areas of the property concerned or on an adjacent property. Nylon bird netting is often recommended to protect flat roofs, but this is an expensive option due to the potential for the product to degrade and require replacement, in some cases after only a few years. Anti-roosting products are relatively inexpensive to provide on flat roof areas and, unlike nylon bird netting, are reversible should essential maintenance work need to be undertaken or if access is required for window cleaning. Anti-roosting products are 100% effective in this application if installed as per manufacturer’s recommendations. Please see the DIY Controls page for further detail of how this can be achieved without resorting to commercially available products:

    • Culling: Culling would be illegal due to the fact that anti-roosting products are 100% effective when provided on a flat roof area.
    • Deterrents: Anti-roosting spikes can be installed on a flat roof area by attaching the spikes to a piece of wood (or baton) and laying the wood on the felt of the roof. Anti-roosting spikes can also be glued (with silicone) to a felt roof without damaging the felt – if maintenance work needs to be undertaken the spikes can be removed and then re-glued in place. Another, more expensive option, would be to use a product called Daddi Long Legs – the product is attached to paving slabs that are then laid on the roof. A further option, and possibly the simplest and most effective option, would be to install a new product called the Defender Rocking Spider™, a cross between a conventional anti-roosting spike and the Daddi Long Legs. This product protects a massive 1 metre area per strip and can be fixed into place using the methods listed above for installing conventional anti-roosting spikes.
    • Source: Vantage point to exploit a food source or possibly an indicator that pigeons are roosting on the property concerned or on an adjacent property.

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