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LETTER TO THE MAYOR
Posted 1 October 2000
Ken Livingstone Mayor of London Mayor's Office Marsham Street London SW1P 3PY
October 10, 2000
PIGEONS IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE
On September 31, the Great London Authority ordered that the licences of pigeon feed sellers in Trafalgar Square be allowed to expire and not be renewed. We understand this decision was taken without the promised consultation with those GLA members who were concerned about the welfare impact on juvenile and elderly birds in particular, and who had a more rational pigeon control strategy.
Summarily withdrawing a primary food source from a bird population that, over many years, has come to depend on it, amounts to a lethal control method. Lethal control of 'problem' bird populations is both inhumane and ineffective in the long term. Your use of security guards to deter members of the public from continuing to feed the birds is a crass, offensive gimmick and, no doubt, a short-term measure due to the drain on public finances.
The licensed feed sellers provided the pigeons with a nutritious food that was quickly eaten. The most sensible way forward would have been to reduce the food supply gradually over a period of 2-3 years rather than overnight. People are now likely to feed the birds with bread and unsuitable foodstuffs - much of which will be passed over and may result in a growth of the rat population - hardly a satisfactory conclusion.
In March of this year you opened Animal Aid's Living Without Cruelty Exhibition - using the event as a platform to announce your pre-election aim to make London an 'animal cruelty-free zone'. This speech received widespread media coverage. How depressing that you have failed so soon such an important welfare and environmental test, citing unconvincing data on the supposed health risk to the human population posed by birds who have been an integral part of London's cultural and social landscape for longer than any of us can remember.
On April 2 and again on June 30 I wrote to you, thanking you for opening our exhibition but requesting clarification on your declared cruelty-free zone initiative. You, or your office, did not do me the courtesy of replying to either of these letters. I send them again.
Your decision to mark your official inauguration as mayor with a highly controversial mass extermination of London wildlife is inept, cynical and callous. It is also undemocratic given the promise to involve Authority members in a consultation exercise.
I must ask you for a response to this letter by tomorrow morning, in order that we can consider including your comments in a statement on the issue that we intend circulating to the media and to our supporters via our website and email news service.