With a daily ridership in excess of 5 million commuters, the New York City Subway system ranks among the world's most trafficked -- though much to the chagrin of transit workers, there's another species making use of the facilities in a whole different way. For decades, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.) has tried their hands at new ways of discouraging the scores of trespassing pigeons from making roost in subway stations throughout Manhattan, but where lethal methods have failed, a more humane approach seems to be doing the trick.
According to a report from the New York Times, the MTA has found a cleverly effective way of deterring pigeons from entering its stations -- simply by playing recorded sounds of predators and birds in distress.
For a mere $375, transit authorities have managed to keep their Roosevelt Island subway station virtually free of pigeons (and their accompanying feathers and droppings) by using Bird-B-Gone, an auditory deterrent which leads the birds to believe that the subterranean shelter might not be the best place to hang out:
The authority decided to try the system on Roosevelt Island because its previous efforts did little to stem the number of complaints about pigeons and their droppings.
The agency chose the sound system, which Bird-B-Gone calls the “bird chase super sonic system,” over bird spikes or electric shock systems because it best fit the station’s architecture and it works in large open spaces.
Mr. Ortiz [an MTA spokesperson] added that since the installation of the sound system, “there is a noticeable decrease in birds and droppings.”
Given pigeons' long and colorful history of sharing our urban spaces, often with less than appreciative attitudes towards their presence on the part of their human cohabitants, it's refreshing to see MTA officials taking such a non-lethal approach to 'pest management'.