An abandoned building formerly used as a rest house by the nuns of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows convent in Beernem, Belgium, has become infested with a large population of pigeons.
At least one hundred pigeons now live in the building. The birds used to take sanctuary on the nearby city hall and in the church tower, but the city hall is under construction and the church tower has been fitted with anti-bird paraphernalia. Because their previous homes were being disturbed, the birds took up residence in quiet sanctuary of the rest house.
According to city council members, the situation is unsafe, because a pigeon can produce up to 14 kg of waste per year. Council member Lauwers also mentioned that the pigeon situation provided an increased risk factor in bird flu.
Other buildings in the West Flanders town of Beernem also have a problem with excessive bird droppings. A public square in front of the new “OCMW” building suffers from the waste of a colony of 20 doves living in a cedar tree. The mayor, Walter van Parijs, recognizes there is a problem, but acknowledges there are no easy solutions. “Shooting (the birds) is not possible in a neighborhood (where people live).” Council member Ingrid Vanhaecke offered this tongue-in-cheek solution: “Maybe the sisters can give the pigeons birth-control pills, but is that in accordance with God’s (law)?”