|Title||Tired of pigeons' mess, Redmond to consider a ban on feeding them|
|Scope & Content||
2006-07-18_pigeon feeding ban.doc
Tuesday, July 18, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM
Tired of pigeons' mess, Redmond to consider a ban on feeding them
By Lisa Chiu
Seattle Times Eastside Bureau
If the urge hits to feed wild pigeons in the city of Redmond, be warned: Feeders could be fined anywhere from $100 to $1,000.
The City Council will decide tonight whether to make it illegal to feed feral pigeons, a move prompted by complaints from business owners and residents about congregating pigeons and their droppings. Masses of pigeons on rooftops and power lines have led to a buildup of droppings on sidewalks and streets that has been a nuisance to clean and can be dangerous, city officials said. The streets get slippery and hosing them off means increased numbers of fecal coliform bacteria in city waterways that can harm the salmon population, they add.
The problem has been most visible at Northeast 85th Street and 164th Avenue Northeast, where the city says people have been feeding the birds regularly. Feeders have been asked to stop but without a law on the books there is nothing the city can do, officials said.
In the past six months, the city has cleaned the sidewalk at 85th Street and 164th Avenue nine times to prevent pedestrians from slipping, said Jim Cooper, the transportation operations supervisor. The cost to clean it has totaled about $2,400 for labor and $900 for equipment costs this year, he added.
"We do not normally clean sidewalks as a public service," wrote Cooper in the staff report on the proposed ordinance. Feeding can also be detrimental to the birds, said Redmond Deputy Planning Director Jim Roberts.
"When people feed pigeons, they [the pigeons] don't know how to feed themselves and ultimately they die," he said.
But some residents Monday questioned the proposed law.
"I have never seen anyone feed a pigeon here. I always feel the less regulated we are, the better; the more regulated, the bigger waste of taxpayer dollars," said resident Kristen DeCouteau.
"But I'm not in their shoes; I'm not the one that has to clean it up."
The water used to clean the droppings is flushed into the city storm drain system, which goes directly into the Sammamish River. The river is already on the state list of impaired waters because of the level of fecal coliform bacteria, and the bird droppings only add to the problem, said
Andrew Rheaume, an environmental scientist with the city.
Most of the fecal coliform in the water comes from birds, Rheaume added. The head of a pin can hold 1 million fecal coliform bacteria, he said.
James Guilliam, treasurer of the Columbia Basin Pigeon Club in Kennewick, said pigeons defecate four to five times a day, a quarter of a teaspoon each time. A handful of other cities in the area have ordinances prohibiting feeding animals, but none specifies pigeons. Bellevue, for example, makes it unlawful for anyone except employees to feed animals in a park; Lynnwood prohibits the feeding of any animal on public property except by employees; Burien makes it unlawful to feed wild animals if feeding leads to an accumulation of droppings.
The proposed ordinance would not affect the raising of domestic pigeons. Residents are allowed to have as many as 10 pigeons on a minimum lot size of half an acre.
For Michele Levis, who moved to Redmond a year ago, the proposed ordinance sounds like a waste of energy.
"They're birds. Kids want to feed them," Levis said. "If people are going to feed pigeons, they'll feed pigeons no matter what anyone says."
Lisa Chiu: (206) 464-3347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright ? 2006 The Seattle Times Company