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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Jason Stuart photo

Pigeon project picks up steam

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Efforts to bring Glendive’s pigeon population under control are picking up steam with nearly 300 of the winged vermin trapped out of the downtown area in the past month and a half.

District Sanitarian Kevin Peña approached the city Finance, Utilities, Property and Recreation Committee on Wednesday to ask that the city go ahead and donate the $1,000 to the pigeon control effort which the city council had set aside for that very purpose a few months ago, which the committee ultimately recommended the full city council approve doing. 

Peña explained that the “pigeon trapper” he worked out an agreement with some months back to undertake pigeon control, Brian Cleveland, has been unable to turn a profit off of trapping the birds as he thought he would be able to. Cleveland’s original plan had been to trap the birds and then sell them to buyers down in Florida, where the birds are considered a delicacy and sold in restaurants as “squab.”

“That didn’t prove to be as feasible as he had hoped, because basically the shipping turned out to be more than he thought it would be,” Peña said.

Peña told the FUPR Committee that with being unable to sell the pigeons he traps at a profit — and with Cleveland supplying the trapping supplies at his own cost — he felt it would be “fair and reasonable” to give Cleveland a $2 per pigeon bounty as he has now requested. Peña noted that the county has also pledged $1,000 to his office for pigeon control, adding that with the addition of the city’s contribution, he would have enough funds to pay Cleveland for trapping up to 1,000 birds.

“A thousand dollars from you and a thousand dollars from me is going to take care of a thousand birds,” Peña told the FUPR Committee. “And we can certainly reimburse the city with what we don’t spend or we can just roll it over.”

The only materials Peña has provided for the effort through his office so far is the trap itself. He noted that with that one trap, which has been sitting on top of the Jordan Inn since August, Cleveland has managed to trap out 268 pigeons — 204 in August and 64 so far this month.

In a phone interview Thursday, Cleveland said he estimates there’s “probably about 1,100 to 1,200 left after I’ve taken out almost 300,” adding that with continued trapping, he believes he can almost zero out Glendive’s pigeon population before the first snow flies.

“I have a feeling that by Halloween, this problem will be drastically reduced and we won’t see near the number of birds that we have now,” Cleveland said. “Probably one-half to three-quarters of the population will be gone before the first snow.”

Cleveland should know a thing or two of what he’s talking about, Peña pointed out. He ran his own wildlife trapping business out of Tampa, Fla., for 23 years, and professionally trapped pigeons and other wildlife all over that region, including working to trap pigeons out of Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Peña isn’t the only one who has decided to rely on Cleveland’s expertise, either. Earlier this week, a new trap went up on top of the Dion Building. The building’s owner, Dr. Kevin McPherson, privately contracted with Cleveland to trap pigeons out from around his downtown property.

McPherson said that after taking ownership of the Dion Building, he talked to Peña and researched several different options for pigeon control and ultimately decided that contracting with Cleveland to trap them would be the best way to go about it.

“I’d looked into ways of dealing with pigeons on my own and I basically concluded the only humane and efficient way to do it was to trap them and get them out of there that way,” McPherson said.

McPherson said he is keen to rid his building of roosting pigeons not just because they are “a nuisance and a health concern,” but also because the birds’ acidic droppings can do a great deal of damage to the brick and stone work on the historic buildings themselves.

He added his hope that other downtown building and business owners might also get involved in the pigeon control effort, saying that getting rid of the pigeons — and their ubiquitous droppings — littering the building sides and sidewalks of downtown Glendive would be another important step in breathing new life into the downtown area and making it a more attractive place for people to visit, shop and eat.

“I guess my thoughts are that if people are going to come down to our downtown and shop in the stores and eat in the restaurants, they should be able to do so and expect that the sidewalks should be clean and they don’t have to watch out for what’s above them,” McPherson said. “I think (pigeon control) helps promote a cleaner community, a cleaner downtown and a more enjoyable (downtown) experience.”

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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