“A PIGEON epidemic” is becoming a potential health and safety hazard for families and businesses in Strabane.
Having taken up residence on the roofs of properties on Summerhill Court and the Castletown Road in recent months, hundreds of birds can be seen flocking to the area on a daily basis.
However, the pigeons have gone beyond a nuisance as they are defecating all over homes, backyards and footpaths.
With fears that these droppings could result in sickness, such is the volume of the daily bombardments, residents are appealing for emergency assistance.
Anita McShane of Giggles and Wiggles Childcare on the Castletown Road is hoping that a statutory body will intervene, if not for her sake, then for the children’s.
“We can’t even step outside at the minute, it’s that bad,” Ms McShane said. “The place is covered in droppings. It’s really, really bad. We brush it every second day but they keeping coming. It’s been going on about two months.”
Having already spent £200 on hawk statues to deter the pigeons – which didn’t work – the local lady explained that her carers often have to take the children elsewhere for their outside time, as the backyard is now off limits.
“The thing is, I’m so aware of how important outside time is to children’s development but because of this they’re not getting out as much as they should.
“If council is about promoting well-being, they should act here, because the children are being affected.
“We have great outdoor facilities but the children can’t access them because of the threat from the pigeons.”
“The hawk statues on the roof aren’t working – the pigeons are actually playing with them,” she continued.
“If it was your own back yard you’d be annoyed and you would clean it but I’ve a business here and there are children around. I have a duty of care here.
“I don’t think council knows how bad it is. Do they think I’ve just got a couple of pigeons here? It’s an epidemic.”
She added, “Council told me there was nothing they can do and they just sent me a list of pest control people.”
Working on behalf of local residents, Strabane independent councillor, Paul Gallagher suggested, “It really has to be seen to be believed.”
“There are hundreds of pigeons on these rooves, literally hundreds,” he said. “It’s horrific, like something out Hitchcock’s, ‘The Birds.’
“I think this needs immediate intervention. I think that is has the potential to be a real health hazard, particularly for children.
“If environmental health at council doesn’t have a remit, I’m going to ask them to intervene in this case. I’ll be insisting that they have to act.”
He concluded, “This is a business and businesses pay rates, both local and regional. It’s not good enough for bodies to stand back and say we have no responsibilities. This is affecting a number of properties and you would like to believe help would come in on the back of that.”
When contacted this week the Department for Agriculture Environment and Rural Development (DAERA) said it was not their responsibility to act on this type of vermin issue. Derry City and Strabane District Council declined to comment.