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Pigeon Problem

It has been said that a bird going to the bathroom on your head is good luck. For those in need of such luck, hanging out at the Washington County Courthouse in Jonesborough might be their best bet.
“Circumstances have really just gotten out of control with the pigeons at the courthouse,” Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said. “There’s hundreds of them.”
While pigeons have been hanging out at the courthouse for years, Eldridge said the issue recently has reached a new level.
“They’ve obviously been a nuisance, but it’s really gotten to be a health hazard over the last few weeks,” Eldridge said. “This has just gotten out of hand.”
According to Eldridge, several remedies have been proposed, and some even implemented, over the years, but nothing has kept the birds away.
“Right now there’s way too many locations for them to roost,” Eldridge said. “The big problem we have is all of the flat area around the cupola and the louvers on the old part of the jail.”
Custodians must spray down all of the walkways and awnings on and around the courthouse on a daily basis to keep the area as free from bird excrement and feathers as possible.
“It’s pretty bad,” Eldridge said. “I’ve had them poop on my shoulder.”
Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reportedly gave the county the go-ahead to get rid of the birds by whatever means possible, noting that pigeons are not a protected species.
A company from Chattanooga that specializes in bird removal visited the courthouse recently to offer its recommendations for a solution.
“They will trap them and haul them off, but they will come back,” Eldridge said. “They can shoot them, but we can’t do that inside town limits. They will poison them. There’s also kind of like a siren thing that is designed to get rid of them.”
While exploring the cost of each option, the county is in the process of placing a spiky material on the multiple ledges of the courthouse clock tower to help alleviate the problem.
The material prevents pigeons from perching and is already being used on some other areas of the courthouse.
“We can make them go away right now, but we need a longer-term solution to keep them from coming back,” Eldridge said. “We are looking for a permanent solution because I fear it has become a big health hazard.”