Nova Scotia

Halifax bans bird poison to control pigeons on city property

A pest control contractor hired by the city was using Avitrol, primarily in warmer months, at Keshen Goodman Public Library. The drug causes mini-seizures and vomiting in birds, lasting for up to four hours.

Drug causes sometimes fatal mini-seizures, vomiting in birds

The bird poison Avitrol will no longer be used on municipal property, said a spokeswoman for Halifax Regional Municipality on Thursday afternoon.

Tiffany Chase said the product is "not consistent with our corporate values or our environmental management practice and it will not be used going forward."

The statement comes less than a day after CBC News asked city officials about a document showing Avitrol had been used at the Keshen Goodman Library to control the pigeon population.

Once ingested, the chemical causes the birds to endure violent spasms which last more than four hours. Avitrol's manufacturer claims other birds are scared away from the area when they see the uncontrolled flapping.

A pest control contractor hired by the city had been using Avitrol at the library, primarily in warmer months. The last time the product had been used was in the summer of 2014.

When CBC News broke this story, many wildlife conversationalists spoke out against the poison's use.

Hope Swinimer, founder of Hope for Wildlife, says she's seen a number of poisoned birds brought to her shelter.

"It looks like they are struggling, just like mini seizures," she said. "They look really confused and there's sometimes vomiting too."

​Avitrol is banned in New York City, San Francisco, the United Kingdom and Red Deer, Alta. 

Halifax officials are renewing the contract for pest control services for municipal facilities across the city.

The contract will be awarded soon, but for whichever company is chosen, seizure-inducing Avitrol will no longer be an option for controlling Halifax's birds.

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