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4:26 AM Thu, Sept. 20th

Viewpoint residents find little relief from pigeons

"They multiply so fast," said Zella Copley, a resident of Viewpoint West, off Highway 89A. "They have so many little ones throughout the year. They do it all year long."

According to Copley and her neighbor Pauline Rizzuto, the problem is that the pigeons keep multiplying, and they keep producing droppings.

"They want to build nests under the pillars in front of the house and in back of the house," Copley said. "It gets awfully messy around those posts."

To combat the pigeon problem at their home, the Copleys have covered the flat surfaces where the birds roost with boards with nails sticking out of them.

"I'd rather have boards with nails than pigeon poop," Copley said.

The Copleys also stuffed the open spaces under their roof with insulation, plastic bags and mothballs.

Copley doesn't want to harm the pigeons, because "they have their place in the feathered world," but she doesn't want them to make her house their place.

Rizzuto said her problem with the pigeons is a health issue and an annoyance. The pigeons roost above her front door and in the vent above her stove.

She lets guests and healthcare workers in through the garage because she doesn't want them tracking dust from the droppings into her house. She's afraid to use her stove to cook, because she doesn't want the droppings to fall into her food.

"God knows how they're getting through there," she said. "But I'll have to get it sanitized."

Also, "the droppings are very corrosive," she said. She doesn't want them to corrode the new paint on her house, and doesn't want to constantly hit the paint with hard water trying to wash the droppings off.

Rizutto is concerned about her health. She referred to "valley fever," and said she wonders about "pigeon poop fever."

Rizutto believes that a governmental agency should help the residents of Viewpoint West take care of the pigeon problem, since she considers it a health hazard.

"There must be some genius at the town level who is concerned with protecting the tax dollars," she said. "Whenever you have a problem that affects health … why should it be the responsibility of the homeowner?"

"Pigeon poop is a major problem," Rizutto said.

Like Copley, Rizutto wants to avoid harming the pigeons. She thinks the Town of Prescott Valley could transform one of its 10 parks into a pigeon park or sanctuary. She has contacted the Town of Prescott Valley and the Yavapai County Health Department.

Chris O'Brien, public relations manager for the Town of Prescott Valley, points out that it may be difficult to get all the birds to go to a pigeon park.

"I'm not comfortable that it's an issue the town needs to deal with," she said, calling it a nuisance more than an animal control issue.

"It's just like mice and rats. At your own house, you're responsible for taking care of it."

O'Brien also said that "pigeons carry disease. That's a fact."

Robbie Corder, Prescott Valley assistant to the town manager, said the pigeon issue "hasn't constituted a health or safety issue yet. Right now it's an aesthetic issue."

He has researched options for getting rid of pigeons without harming them. He suggested "closing up alcoves and putting up spikes in the windows so they don't roost there."

Chris Sexton, environmental health specialist for the county Health Department, said dealing with the birds is a difficult issue, because "who owns pigeons? Nobody. So who can we seek compliance from?"

While Sexton said the Health Department "won't turn away from legitimate health problems," and that people can contract a disease called psittacosis from bird droppings, he added that the responsibility of health problems on private property falls to the property owners.

Sexton said he's heard of some grains that make pigeons distressed, and when they eat it they go away because they don't like being distressed. He's also heard of some type of sticky material people can lay down that makes pigeons' feet hurt, so the pigeons won't roost there.

No one from the Health Department has been out to Viewpoint West to determine whether the pigeon poop is a health hazard, Sexton said. But, even if department officials determined it to be a health hazard, they'd simply direct the property owners to take care of it.

The Center for Disease Control's Web site reports the clinical features of psittacosis are "in humans – fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a dry cough. Pneumonia is often evident on a chest X-ray."

Also, the Web site reports that people contract the disease "by inhaling dried secretions from infected birds. Although all birds are susceptible, pet birds (parrots, parakeets, macaws and cockatiels) and poultry (turkeys and ducks) are most frequently involved in transmission to humans."

O'Brien, Corder and Sexton all mentioned that perhaps Viewpoint West's homeowners association could take care of the pigeon problem.

Lloyd Caudle, secretary of the board of directors for the association, said the board discussed the pigeon issue at its meeting this past Monday night.

"We came to the conclusion that there's nothing we can do," he said. "You hear about this all over the world."

Caudle explained that the association's responsibility is to enforce the covenants, codes and restrictions, but that individual homeowners must "fight (the pigeon problem) the best way they can."

"Whether the birds have a network, I don't know," Caudle said.

At this time, one of the only things that's clear is that the pigeons seem to like some of the homes at Viewpoint West, but the homeowners would rather do without the uninvited guests.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com