Informal poll results indicate pigeon procedure doesn’t fly

By M. Robert Berg

The results are in on the pigeon poll, and it looks like NIU students think the current system the city is using should be dropped.

Seventy-nine students called in to voice their opinion on the 2-day Northern Star poll, with 54 voting to stop removing the pigeons from downtown and 25 saying to keep catching them.

At the DeKalb City Council meeting Monday night, council members discussed different alternatives to handling the pigeon problem in downtown DeKalb.

According to DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas, merchants and shoppers in downtown DeKalb, stretching from First through Seventh Street, have been complaining about pigeon droppings falling on people and the street and pigeons nesting in the buildings.

“It creates a problem with hygiene and appearance (of the downtown area),” Nicklas said at the meeting.

For the past couple of weeks, the city has employed a local wildlife preservationist to remove the pigeons using nets. This preservationist takes the pigeons to a remote location, where they are kept in a large cage until they lose their homing instinct and can’t find their way back.

This method, however, has some flaws, as well as an extra cost to the city of $400 so far. “There hasn’t been an appreciable impact (on the pigeon population),” Nicklas said at the meeting.

Also, as of now there is no mechanism to determine if the pigeons are finding their way back. “Are we marking the pigeons to make sure they don’t come back?” First Ward Alderman Amy Polzin asked at the meeting.

Nicklas said that could be done, but costs would rise.

Students at NIU have their own opinions on what to do with the pooping pigeons.

“I bet our cafeteria could use them for our next casserole surprise,” said Stacey Spada, a freshman bio-chemistry major.

Some students didn’t think it was a problem worth dealing with.

“There should be no more funding for it,” said Jennifer Asher, a freshman accounting major. “The city shouldn’t be spending money for bird poop.”

Jennifer Bundy, freshman physical therapy major, said she agreed. “Just leave them, who cares? I heard it was good luck when a bird pooped on you, anyway.”

One student didn’t like that idea. “Kill them all,” said Todd Persenico, a senior elementary education major. “I’d hate to have poop on my head.”

The city plans to keep the current system for now, Nicklas said. “We will continue to catch them and take them out until we reach the limit of our budget on this,” he said.

“After that, it’s up to the individual property owners to either follow our example, and maybe contract with the same person we have, or find some other legal means to take care of the problem,” he added.