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Woolwich Arsenal (Bird Poison)

Volume 80: debated on Tuesday 11 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what is the estimated cost of using rodent control operators to put down bird poison at Woolwich arsenal over the weekend of 1–2 June 1985;(2)why his Department has used slow-acting poison against wild birds at Woolwich arsenal; and what representations have been made on this matter from staff or outside bodies;(3)how many times in recent years bird poison has been used at Woolwich arsenal; and what is the estimated number of

(a) pigeons and (b) other wild birds which have been killed as a result.

The culling of feral pigeons is licensed annually by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and is carried out from time to time at Woolwich arsenal by an MOD employee who has been specially trained. The task is carried out in accordance with procedures laid down by the licensing Ministry. Other wild birds are revived and set free. Culling is necessary because of the health hazards posed by droppings and the decomposing bodies of pigeons which die after becoming trapped in buildings, particularly in roof spaces. There have been four culls since the first licence was granted in 1983 on 15 October 1983, 12 May 1984, 3 August 1984 and 24 November 1984; 195 pigeons were killed. No other wild birds have been killed. The problem persists and more frequent culling will be needed in the future. About 15 man hours are expended on each occasion, largely at weekend rates and materials cost about £6. No culling took place at the weekend 1–2 June 1985. No representations on the matter have been made by staff, although a recent inquiry from a local RSPCA Inspector on the method of culling was received on 3 June. A reply is being sent.