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S.F. Weighs Birth Control for Pigeons

July 11, 1999| From Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO — Faced with fluttering flocks of "flying rats," San Francisco's Animal Control and Welfare Commission has passed a resolution calling for research into how to put pigeons on the pill.

At its monthly meeting Thursday, the commission voted unanimously to urge the city's Board of Supervisors to develop a regional plan for employing a specially engineered birth control feed aimed at reducing the pigeon population.

"I don't think people should laugh at it just because it involves pigeons," commission Chairman Richard Schulke told the San Francisco Examiner after the vote.

Schulke said San Francisco's pigeons, known as "flying rats" because they rummage through garbage left on the streets, are becoming a health hazard.

"You are not allowed to trap or poison birds in San Francisco, so we have to think of something," Schulke said Friday.

"We've been brainstorming."

The birth control option might seem far-fetched, but Schulke said a special feed called "Ornitrol" has already been developed but has not reached the U.S. market because the inventor cannot afford the numerous tests required for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"Perhaps if San Francisco and other cities pitch in with funding, we could get this stuff back on the market," Schulke said.

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