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by Dee Ward Thompson, Technical Manager
at the British Pest Control Association
For FMs, pest issues tend to be associated with rats and mice, but birds need to be considered in any strategy to keep property management on track.
Here, Dee Ward Thompson, Technical Manager at the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) outlines some of the key issues facilities managers should consider to ensure they are protected professionally.
Introducing an effective bird management strategy can present challenges for facilities managers, but the issues airborne pests present mean it is a matter that cannot be ignored.
Of particular concern is the feral pigeon, which is very common and found in all areas of the UK.
Feral pigeons can have a real impact on the look and feel of a building and its surrounding environment. This can include the visual effects created by their fouling. The noise they generate is another disruption.
But for FMs, probably the most pressing issue is one of public health.
Feral pigeons bring a variety of issues which can be problematic when it comes to health.
Their fouling is a cause for concern, as pigeon guano (droppings) can be very dangerous. Ornithosis, Listeria, E-coli and other nasty pathogens can be passed through droppings and by the birds themselves.
Furthermore, when dry, the droppings can become airborne leading to respiratory complaints such as psittacosis, and the cryptococcus fungus.
Both the birds and their nests can also support parasites such as mites, ticks, fleas and beetles.
Also bear in mind that there are the health and safety implications of slips and trips caused by the droppings to consider.
Other problem factors
As well as the public health issues relating to bird guano, feral pigeon droppings are also acidic and can corrode and erode metals, stonework and brickwork. They also create an unsightly visual effect.
Together with visual concerns, pigeons can also create a noise nuisance, meaning work to manage acoustics in facilities can be affected, as the sound pigeons generate can be disruptive.
Managing the issue
FMs should be aware that all UK bird species are protected by law (Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) including their nests and eggs, so a trusted pest management company should always be contacted to ensure facilities are protected professionally.
If your staff are tasked with clearing up bird guano themselves, it is important to make sure the correct personal protective equipment, and appropriate levels of training have been given.
This is a hazardous job which we also recommend is carried out by a professional pest management company.
Issues to consider
Bird control has developed considerably over the years, with innovations including laser technology, bioacoustics and ultrasonic emitters to name a few.
Understanding the products and methods can take a good deal of time and research, but a good starting point to work from is the categorisation of control products in two areas – proofing and dispersal.
Proofing involves physically excluding the birds from the area to be protected.
Dispersal consists of creating a sense of danger in the affected area, which causes the birds to leave. This includes ‘scaring’ them away or re-educating them that the area is dangerous.
Once these two categories are understood, then the next step is to understand the level of bird pressure, which is essentially the amount of resistance likely to be encountered when re-routing an infestation of birds (categorised as low, medium and high).
Then other considerations, such as the environment and access, need to be assessed before appropriate control measures are introduced.
A trusted route
BPCA membership includes pest management professionals with expertise in bird control to go through the options and ultimately address the issues faced.
As well as awareness of the most effective methods, they are familiar with important environmental, social and legal issues, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Health and safety also needs to be considered. Sometimes bird management work can involve working at height, so companies offering this service must compliant with the relevant requirements in this regard.
BPCA offers further advice on feral pigeons, as well as other species, in its A-Z of Pests at bpca.org.uk/pigeons
The link also includes details of how to find a BPCA member company.
Although this article focuses on pigeons, it’s important to bear in mind that whatever the pest and the type of environment, it is vital FMs are protected professionally to protect public health, the environment and the upholding of a positive reputation.
Maintenance cycles have an invaluable role to play for FMs when looking at developing an effective management strategy – and a free guide from BPCA provides a useful tool to help address the issue.
Featuring a wide range of information including a calendar of pest problems, information on the most common species in the UK and procurement advice, the guide works alongside BPCA’s A to Z of pests digital tool.
This activity slots into an organisation’s scheduled operations to offer value and peace of mind.
The guide, called “Ticking the box – the value of maintenance cycles for effective pest control,” is available for free download at bpca.org.uk/b/mcycles
A proactive approach
A large part of pest prevention is thinking ahead and identifying potential causes and entry points before infestations occur.
Through the development of a routine maintenance cycle programme, a complete picture of effective preventative controls can be built, and relevant actions introduced.
This will include inspecting premises on a routine basis and reporting on the status of pest infestation, organising and undertaking a programme of treatments, to ensure FMs have peace of mind that the situation is in control and they are protected professionally.
More details on feral pigeons bpca.org.uk/pigeons
Putting effective bird management on the radar for FMs
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