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An experimental study on the effectiveness of a gel repellent on feral pigeons

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The presence of feral pigeons (Columba livia) in anthropic environments often has a negative impact on human activities, public health, and historic buildings. A number of different kinds of dissuading devices, including gel repellents, are on the market. However, their efficacy has been rarely rigorously tested. We reported the effect of a recent multi-cue gel formulation (Bird Free®) on free-living feral pigeons. In order to assess the efficacy of this product in discouraging the birds from occupying buildings, we conducted tests on both a night and a day roost. In addition, we performed a test on sites potentially suitable for nesting, in order to assess how pigeons reacted to the installation of the product just on the small area that can be occupied by a single nest. The tested product totally abolished the presence of feral pigeons at the night roost, and significantly reduced their presence on the day roost area for at least 1 year, compared with the control treatment. In addition, we observed that pigeons are discouraged from building their nests on sites treated with Bird Free® for at least 3 months. Our results indicate that Bird Free® is an effective method for reducing the location-specific impact of pigeons on buildings. The local effect of the product, strictly limited to the treated area, makes Bird Free® not suitable for large-scale pigeon management programs aimed at reducing the carrying capacity of urban environment by lowering nest and roost sites availability.

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We thank Prof. Grazia Guidi, Prof Micaela Sgorbini, and Prof. Francesco Camillo for allowing us to conduct the experiments in the ODV of the University of Pisa. We thank Stefano Benedettini, Andrea Guidi, Resi Mencacci, Fabio Chini, Giorgio Boccone, and Lorenzo Galletta for their help in the organization of the experiments. We are grateful to Daniele Santerini for his help in the preparation of the figures.


This research was commissioned by EZFlex Co. Ltd. (South Korea) and partially supported by PRA_2018_15.

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Correspondence to Anna Gagliardo.

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Gagliardo, A., Pollonara, E., Vanni, L. et al. An experimental study on the effectiveness of a gel repellent on feral pigeons. Eur J Wildl Res 66, 27 (2020).

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