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Berkeley County hires firm to shoo pigeons

September 27, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, Pa. - Until some bird lovers complained, a county employee used to exterminate pesky pigeons with a pellet gun, County Commissioner Bob Burkhart said.

Now, paid professionals are being called in.

After Southwood Books owner Patti Rice pleaded with the Berkeley County Commission Thursday morning, they agreed to contract with an exterminator to get rid of pigeons roosting on the courthouse roof. A narrow alley separates Rice's bookstore from the rear of the courthouse.

For $1,400, J.C. Ehrlich Co. Inc. will visit the courthouse 15 times - three times a week for five weeks. Initially they will leave traps open, with whole kernel corn and water inside, according to a memo from the company. After pigeons associate the traps with food, the traps will be armed, and the birds removed.

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What happens to the birds after that is unknown. A message left at Ehrlich's Martinsburg office was not returned Thursday.

Rice estimated that hundreds of pigeons are living on the courthouse's roof, which she said she can see from her building's fourth floor. During a recent rainfall, a significant amount of "pigeon droppings" was washed off the roof, she said.

"Can you do something?" she asked commissioners. "I think that it is a health hazard that needs to be attended to."

Rice said no pigeons roost on her roof, possibly because it is flat and offers no protection.

Workers with Ehrlich told Rice that the metal-plated dome on the courthouse roof conducts heat and attracts pigeons, she said.

The commission voted unanimously to have Ehrlich try to trap the pigeons once again. The company came twice last year.

In a memo from Ehrlich, Greg Demski, a local sales representative, said his goal is to remove 80 percent of the pigeon population from the roof.

"Services will be performed in the early morning and with the greatest discretion," Demski wrote.

County Commission President Howard Strauss said he would like to look into other ways to eliminate the birds, and added the birds may not be the county's problem.

"I don't see any of these pigeons that say 'Property of Berkeley County Commission,'" he said.

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