Moree business owners fed up with pigeon problem in town

ENOUGH'S ENOUGH: Moree Car Spa's Geoff Manchee, Moree Chamber of Commerce president Murray Hartin, Harborne Financial Services' Mark Harborne, LJ Hooker's Debbie Williams and Stephen Sparke from Stephen Sparke Jewellers want to see something done about the pigeons which are wreaking havoc in town.
ENOUGH'S ENOUGH: Moree Car Spa's Geoff Manchee, Moree Chamber of Commerce president Murray Hartin, Harborne Financial Services' Mark Harborne, LJ Hooker's Debbie Williams and Stephen Sparke from Stephen Sparke Jewellers want to see something done about the pigeons which are wreaking havoc in town.

Pigeons, and their poo, are taking over Moree and local business owners are fed up with the crap.

They’ve come together to call for a solution to the pigeon problem, which seems to have intensified in recent years.

So much so that a number of businesses have experienced flooding and roofs caving in as a result of a build-up of dead pigeons and poo in their guttering.

Two years ago, LJ Hooker Moree and Gifts on Heber were flooded for this very reason.

“A pigeon died in the box gutter and with heavy rain it overflowed and pushed it back into the building,” Gifts on Heber owner Debbie Macey said.

“We were closed for two days.”

“Every month we have to clean our box gutters out or it happens,” LJ Hooker Moree owner Debbie Williams added.

Just last week, stock was damaged at Ruby Soles after the recent rainfall overflowed the gutters.

“Upstairs, the guttering gets filled with pigeon poo. When water gets in, it can’t get out and overflows so it leaks in our windows,” owner Heidi Brooks said.

“I had stock damaged because of it on Tuesday [March 6]. I had water draining back down the store. If I hadn’t been here it would have come all the way through. I definitely could have lost more stock.

“That’s not the first time it’s happened. I’ve been here since September/October 2016 and it’s leaked multiple times. The awning needs to be fixed too but the pigeon poo doesn’t help.”

In addition to causing flooding, the pigeons also leave behind a trail of feathers which not only fill the sidewalks in Moree’s CBD, particularly along Heber Street, but blow into stores.

“You walk in the shop every morning and they’re underneath the door; I’m constantly sweeping them out,” Ms Williams said.

“The appeal of the town is affected when you’ve got feathers everywhere,” fellow business owner Stephen Sparke, of Stephen Sparke Jewellers, added.

“It’s an embarrassment.”

While the pigeons appear to be worst on top of the Imperial and Harvey Norman buildings, they’ve also spread to residential areas of town where they are nesting underneath solar panels.

As well as causing damage to buildings, pigeons and their droppings also pose significant health risks to the community.

“It’s a town issue, not just a main street issue,” Mr Sparke said.

“It’s affecting everybody, ratepayers, business houses.”

The pigeons have been a concern for sometime, but according to these business owners, it’s at a stage now where something has to happen.

“Years ago you could see them sometimes on a building, but now they seem to be everywhere,” Harborne Financial Services’ Mark Harborne said.

“Moree has a pigeon problem and it’s got a whole lot worse.”

The problem is, whose problem is it? 

“There’s been talk about doing something for a long time, but now it’s just gotten out of hand,” Mr Harborne said.

“It gets raised and forgotten about, but now it’s at a critical stage.

“It’s everybody’s problem.”

While the business owners are not sure whose responsibility the pigeon issue is, they’d like to get together with Moree Plains Shire Council to develop a strategy to get rid of the pests.

Council’s environment and compliance manager Dane Graham said there’s no legislation to say that councils have a responsibility to deal with the issue, however Moree Plains Shire Council does allocate $5,000 each financial year to undertake pigeon control on the buildings it owns.

That money goes towards preventative equipment such as shock tapes and spikes, as well as reduction measures via a pest control agency.

Mr Graham said everyone has a responsibility to control the issue.

“It takes a combined approach,” he said.

“Council do address the problem by managing our side of things and contribute the best we can but it is also a responsibility of business owners.”

Mr Graham said if there is a concern among business owners, council would be willing to look into facilitating a strategy to undertake a large pigeon prevention and reduction project.

This would require financial contribution from all interested parties.

“It wouldn’t be this financial year, but I would be happy to talk to businesses interested and look at doing a combined management,” Mr Graham said.

“What’s been done in the last financial year, we talked about the Chamber of Commerce collecting funds from local businesses and undertaking a large project.

“If everybody’s willing to rally together to do a bigger project, that’s something we’re willing to do.

“If this can be done on a larger scale it can be done more promptly. The more money, the easier it is to be able to control.”