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Oak Park Pigeons: Chicago Suburb Abandons Plan To Euthanize Pesky, Non-Native Birds

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Pigeons are seen eating on a street in Hong Kong on January 6, 2012. The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was 'deeply concerned' about research into whether the H5N1 flu virus could be made more transmissible between humans after mutant strains were produced in labs.(Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty Images

At its village meeting Monday, Oak Park, Ill., took up what some called a drastic measure to help rid the streets of its downtown shopping district of pesky pigeons.

But the village ultimately chose not to implement its plan to euthanize the persistent pigeons. Instead, the village will use a netting system in its efforts to prevent the birds from gathering in a viaduct under the Marion Street El, the Chicago Tribune reports. The viaduct had become overrun with both pigeons and the feces they produce.

Ahead of the meeting, village trustee John Hedges described the birds to the Tribune as "a problem. It's probably a health problem, and it's an appearance problem." The village has previously tried to set spikes and nets in order to help alleviate the downtown area of pigeons, but the pests have persisted.

The village was previously aiming to enlist the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to euthanize the birds using carbon dioxide, CBS Chicago reports. But some animal rights activists and field experts said the tactic is known to be ineffective, igniting an emotional debate in the western Chicago suburb.

"What happens is that you remove the birds and new birds move in," Laura Simon, field director of the Humane Society of the United States' Urban Wildlife Program, told the Wednesday Journal. "The program continues and the killing continues. Residents are going to see that their money is going to continue to be wasted."

In response to the criticism, supporters of the euthanizing plan told the Journal that was considered a "last resort" and that they did not endorse the killing of birds -- even non-native ones such as pigeons, starlings and sparrows.

"There are other things we'd rather do, but we're making the best decision with the hand that was dealt to us," Mike Charley, the village's environmental health supervisor, told the Journal. "This is what's being recommended."

Other area suburbs -- including Evanston and Naperville -- have tackled their pigeon problems with netting in the past, NBC Chicago reports, but none had taken action as drastic as the plan initially proposed in Oak Park.

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