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Pigeons courting undue trouble

That rodents chew up files in the high court’s record room has nothing to do with the pigeons being fed there, yet the birds’ feeding spot was shifted.

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Poor pigeons. Authorities concerned blamed them for ‘attracting’ rodents to the high court premises and that is why the spot where the bird lovers used to feed the pigeons was shifted. However, rodents’ love affair with the files kept in the court’s record room continues unabated.

Environmentalists say pigeon-feeding does not have anything to do with abundance of rodents. Seems that the birds were driven away for no fault of theirs.

Three months ago, the horticulture department put up a notice board at the high court’s main gate—also called Golden Jubilee gate—stating that the practice of feeding pigeons there was attracting a lot of rodents, who were targeting the court’s record room and destroying files.

In this backdrop, feeding pigeons at the main gate was stopped and two places (area in front of Bal Bhavan and near Siddalingaiah Circle) were allotted for the purpose. This change came into effect on February 25, 2012.

The authorities had thought that it was the pigeons’ leftover that attracted rodents and shifting the birds’ dining place would drive away the rodents too. Alas! That did not happen. Three months have passed since the pigeons moved elsewhere, but the rodents continue to target files in the HC’s record room.

An employee who has been working at the high court for 25 years rues that the rodents are still chewing on the court’s files. He says that a lot of files are kept in the record room and these may be attracting the rodents. Shifting the pigeons hasn’t helped, he says, adding that the decision has backfired. He jokes that as the rodents don’t get pigeon-feed anymore, they are targeting papers in the record room with more vigour.

Another employee says it is not just the rodents they have to be wary of in the record room; they get surprise visits from snakes too. He says whenever the employees go there to pick up a file, they are apprehensive that a reptile or vermin may greet them. He said one reason for this could be that the record room is in the basement.

Yet another employee summarily disapproves of the anti-pigeon decision. “I don’t think the shifting of the feeding spot of the pigeons was a good idea. It was nice and pleasant to watch them.”

It’s not just the high court employees, but also the policemen deputed there for security who have sincerest sympathies for the pigeonfolk. The policemen say pigeons and rodents are present on the premises of high court circuit benches of Gulbarga and Dharwad too, the rodents have damaged the files there too, but it is only in Bangalore that the poor birds were blamed and punished. This is unfair, they say.

Environmentalists acquit pigeons
One may think that the HC employees and policemen are vouching for the pigeons out of affection. This is not true. Even the environmentalists say pigeons and rodents have no link whatsoever. Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group is a case in point. He asserts that the birds are not connected to the territorial creatures in any way. He says it is an open space that attracts the rodents. He says one may drive away pigeons but the rodents will still come if the area in question is an open space.
Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar throws more light on the issue. He says it is the files in the court’s offices that attract the rodents.

For any kind of animal, a particular location over a period of time becomes the habitat. If the pigeons are used to a particular location, it becomes their habitat. Instead of shifting pigeons, authorities can use rodent traps, he suggests.

He adds that a lot of vendors sell fruits and other eatables near the high court premises; the rodents are more attracted towards these items than pigeon-feed, and the
pigeons.

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