The Town of Pictou’s efforts to clean up for next week's royal visit have some locals worried they’re killing pigeons.
The town’s old post office has been derelict for years and pigeons roost in it. Recently, the windows were mostly boarded up.
Rachelle Gaudet said the situation was bleak. “An awful lot of pigeons. Some of them are trapped in the building [and] there’s a lot of them hanging around trying to get in,” she said.
She learned of the situation while walking past the building. She heard a racket as birds tried to get in or out. Gaudet said a broken window in the front is too small.
“We’re expecting the royal visit next week and so I would assume they boarded up all the windows so it wasn’t an eyesore,” she said. “Even if they just took a couple [of boards] down from the back so they could get in and out.”
Others took to Twitter to raise the alarm.
.@TOWNofPICTOU U board up baby & adult birds in building & allow them to starve to death as part of town cleanup for Royal Visit? Disgusting— Bridget Curran (@GreySealHugger) May 15, 2014
"In my opinion it was done to perk up the town for the royal visit," said Charlene Steeves. "That's all well and good but you can't do that at the expense of these animals."
Steeves said the building was boarded up Friday. The town said it was done Monday after complaints from the public.
Joe Hawes, mayor of Pictou, said the flap over the pigeons was misplaced. The town boarded up the windows after vandals smashed the glass. It’s a privately owned building, so the town will charge the owner for the work.
“They weren’t trying to kill the pigeons or harm them,” he said.
“The town crews went in and boarded up the windows and painted them black. They didn’t know that there was pigeons inside. They had no idea.”
When they figured out the pigeons were having problems, the crews returned and cut holes in the new plywood to grant avian access.
“Well, they can fly out now. There’s holes in there,” Hawes said. “They’re not in there shooting them or trapping them. It’s really much ado about nothing.”
He was asked about reports birds were flying straight into the walls. “That I don’t know. Birds are pretty intelligent. If there’s a hole there to get out, they’ll get out."
Thursday morning more holes were added to open access for the birds on all floors.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will spend 24 hours in Nova Scotia next week. They arrive Sunday and will visit Pictou Monday.