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It’s the Battle of Basildon as hawks target pigeons
2:00pm Tuesday 26th June 2012 in News
A BATTLE has begun in the skies over Basildon in a last-ditch attempt to drive out nuisance pigeons.
Residents on the Craylands estate will soon see Harris Hawks on patrol.
The birds of prey have been brought in by Basildon Council to get rid of pigeons, which have been wreaking havoc in the area.
The pigeons have been nesting on the roofs of 32 maisonette blocks on the sprawling estate.
Not only have they laid their eggs and left droppings there, but they have also become a regular fixture on many balconies, leaving droppings all over patios, windows and doors.
After laying traps for the birds, which have already brought down the number of the pests, the council has now brought in private company, Van Vynck Environmental, which will use the hawks to scare off the pigeons.
The hawks will take to the skies above the estate once a week for a year.
David Van Vynck, director of the Tilbury-based company, said the hawks worked by scaring the pests and disrupting the pigeons’ nesting and roosting habits He said: “It’s essentially a displacement technique.
“We try to use the hawks to get them to break their patterns and nest somewhere else.
“The hawks do scare the pigeons as they view the birds of prey as natural predators.
“The pigeons believe the hawks will cause them harm and try to catch them, although our hawks are actually not trained to chase them but to return to their handlers.”
Phil Turner, deputy leader of Basildon Council, said: “Flocks of pigeons are a blight on the neighbourhood and pose a significant health risk from the parasites and bacteria that live in their waste.
“It is essential we reduce the flock sizes as they are breeding too quickly and leaving their mess all over the estate, including on people’s washing, in soffits and behind fascia boards.”
Peter Long, the council’s repair services manager, added: “We want pigeons to think that this is hawk territory and not a great place to live.
“Pigeons should then disperse in smaller groups that are not at nuisance level.”
The move has been welcomed by residents on the estate.
Maggie Forder, 65, of the Craylands and Fry- erns Community Panel, said: “The residents are really pleased, especially those living in the maisonettes.
“Some of them were having to wash their front and back doors as much as three times a week because it’s such a health hazard.
“It really was awful, but already it’s much better since the hawks started.”
The council has also begun targeting nuisance pigeons in Long Riding, Basildon, and parts of Laindon.