London

Residents say someone is poisoning birds in their east London neighbourhood

Someone is poisoning pigeons near a highrise in east London and neighbours allege building staff hired a Toronto-area pest control company to kill the birds.

At least a dozen birds have turned up dead around a highrise on Mornington Avenue

Neighbours on Mornington Avenue in London, Ont. say this pigeon is one of at least a dozen that have died after allegedly being poisoned by staff of a nearby highrise. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Residents on a stretch of Mornington Avenue in east London say someone is poisoning pigeons after reports of at least a dozen bird carcasses have been left to rot in parking lots, and on sidewalks, lawns and a public park. 

CBC News spoke with seven people who live in the area Wednesday, many of whom called the poisonings cruel, inhumane and a potential health threat to the wildlife. They were also concerned that pets and children might come into contact with the remains. 

"We shouldn't have to be concerned about walking our dogs, or if somebody has a cat, or young children. There are a lot of young kids here," said Elise Frenette, who lives in the neighbourhood. 

"Once you see an animal getting poisoned, that image does not leave your mind," she said. "It is a slow and what looks to be an excruciating death. The confusion, the convulsions, they're trembling. You can see they're trying to get away but they physically can't. It's so inhumane." 

'A lot of people are really distraught over this'

Staff at the rental office inside the highrise at 520 Mornington Avenue refused to comment on the apparent poisoning of wildlife in the area, adding there were no safety concerns for pets. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Frenette said she first heard of the dying birds Monday when a group of neighbours at an apartment building at 530 Mornington Avenue gathered to clean up more than half a dozen dead birds that had mysteriously appeared near the building that morning. 

Since then, she said there's been a steady stream of dead or dying pigeons turning up all over the rental property. It houses a cluster of buildings and is owned by Calgary-based Northview Apartment REIT.

"A lot of people are really distraught over this," said Frenette. "Nobody was notified."

Many people in the neighbourhood allege the birds were killed by Toronto-based Husky Pest Control with pesticide-laced bird seed.

Calls from CBC News to Husky Pest Control were also not answered Tuesday. 

Neighbours claim it's not just the pigeons that are dying

A dead pigeon lays on a tennis court on Mornington Avenue, not far from a building where neighbours allege staff have been poisoning the birds for weeks. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

Some say the apparent poisonings aren't limited to just pigeons. They say there are reports from other residents about mourning doves, starlings and blue jays, as well as skunks, squirrels and other rodents sprawled dead on the ground or appearing ill or disoriented.

CBC News visited the Northview-owned apartment complex on Mornington Avenue Wednesday and found no evidence of dead animals such as skunks or squirrels nearby. However, the carcass of a pigeon was discovered lying in a public tennis court. The bird appeared to have died recently. 

Staff at the building declined to comment when asked about the apparent poisonings Tuesday.

"We're not allowed to talk about it. It's just company policy," said a woman who would only identify herself as Trina, the regional administrator for the company. She said there were no health concerns for pets in the building. 

"I don't see an immediate concern for dogs," she said.  

Residents say Northview apartments are rife with vermin

Brenda Lonie is a tenant at 520 Mornington Avenue, a highrise she says is poorly maintained by the landlord, Northview Apartment REIT. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

However, some tenants disagree. Brenda Lonie, a resident of the highrise at 520 Mornington Avenue, said while she watches her dog Milo closely when out on walks, others aren't so careful.  

"You're taking the chance of a dog eating that and killing it or even a cat," she said.

Tenants say a number of buildings owned by Northview along Mornington Avenue have had recurring problems with vermin and untidy conditions for years. 

"They don't seem to care about this property when it comes to garbage. This whole place needs to be taken care of in a better manner. This place is full of bed bugs, cockroaches."

Lonie said other than relieving themselves on balconies, the pigeons don't really bother anyone. 

"I find them on my balcony," she said. "I just take a water bottle and I just spray them to get lost. They get the message. If someone is trying to get rid of them, that's not the right thing to do. You don't kill animals." 

Calls from CBC News to Starlight Investments, the owner of Northview Apartments, were not returned Tuesday. 

Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, which is responsible for animal welfare in the province, said it has not received any complaints regarding the apparent poisoning of wildlife in the area. 

"The ministry has not received a complaint on this matter," he wrote in an email Tuesday. "It would be inappropriate for the ministry to speculate on the legality of this matter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Colin Butler

Video Journalist

Colin Butler is a veteran CBC reporter who's worked in Moncton, Saint John, Fredericton, Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton and London, Ont. Email: colin.butler@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now