For those who are counting, that's more pigeons residents than Venetian human residents left in the city...
NEWS. Last week in Ravenna, there was a conference about a common subject in Venice -- the overpopulation of pigeons. The findings of the congress contradicted what the municipality of Venice concluded a month ago that the solution to the problem was to abolish the sale of grain in St. Mark's Square. The only substantial remedy, in the opinion of the experts, is the distribution of grain containing sterilising drugs. During the same conference, it was announced that research conducted in eight Italian towns calculated that, just for cleaning and repairs, each pigeon costs the town about thirty euros a year, not including health-related expenses. Venice, currently, has more than 70,000 pigeons.
(from Buongiorno Venezia)
UPDATED: This just in...
A centuries-old tradition - throwing rice at the bride and groom as they emerge from the church ceremonies to ensure the newlyweds' fertility and happiness - is to be made illegal in Venice, the romantic Italian city of gondolas and canals...
The mayor of the historic city has taken this step because, whatever it may be doing in terms of ensuring the fertility of the bride and groom, the rice is causing an explosion in the local pigeon population. The 120,000 feathered creatures now outnumber the local human population by two to one - and their droppings and messy nesting habits are destroying the historic Baroque and Renaissance architecture which - along with the canals and colourful gondoliers - are the city's major tourist attractions. Feeding the pigeons in St Mark's Square, another popular tourist occupation regarded as a ‘must' photo opportunity by many visitors will also become illegal.
"Throwing rice at the bride and groom brings hordes of pigeons who then wait around until the next ceremony. The situation has become unbearable," says Marco Agostini, the city's police chief.
And it is not only the corrosive droppings that are damaging the city's buildings, according to the city's Superintendent of Architectural and Cultural Heritage. "The birds attack the marble and stucco facades of many of the buildings to get at scraps of food and birdseed blown onto and into the buildings," says Renata Codello. "Enough is enough. The studies we have commissioned show that the pigeons are causing incalculable damage to our artistic and architectural heritage," she said. Attempts to lace birdseed with contraceptive chemicals had no affect, she added. he
pigeons were carrying out attacks "like kamikaze pilots, or something out of the Hitchcock horror film ‘The Birds'," said a recent city council report.
Residents were banned from leaving grain or bread for the pigeons ten years ago; however, as part of the city's tourist package, 18 vendors were licensed to sell birdseed in St Mark's Square. Those licensees have been revoked, though the authorities have promised to find alternative employment for the 18 who will lose their present livelihoods.
Well, lemme tell you... lots of little old ladies still feed those pigeons their day-old bread, and I'm not so sure that those feed vendors are going to go quietly. (They never have before!!)