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The council of Kingston in Surrey is to carry out a "humane cull" of pigeons in the town's Memorial Gardens, the Surrey Comet reports.

The cull will be carried out by "a private pest control contractor from Cobham as part of a three-year programme to reduce Kingston's pigeon population". Town centre manager Graham McNally said the council had "considered other ways of culling before deciding on shooting, and explained: "At this moment in time, a specialist marksman will be used to shoot the pigeons. I can definitely say there will be no gassing and no poisoning. The cull will be carried out discreetly."

All pretty straighforward, you might think. The issue has, however, provoked a flurry of comments on the Surrey Comet website, including the assertion that Kingston is right to act against pigeonkind because the birds carry "all manner of diseases like AIDS, malaria, rabies and mad cow disease to name but a few".

That's according to Martin Wildoat who adds: "They are also very aggressive and I can vouch for this as I was attacked by a flock and pecked severely while on my way home from flower arranging classes. In fact I would be more than happy to help in the killing of these evil creatures. Well done Kingston council keep up the good work."

Norman Ski disagrees, and writes:

This is preposterous! Pigeons performed a vital role in assisting communications in both World Wars and should therefore be encouraged to breed in higher numbers in order to remind us that we must never forget. Perhaps the money would be better spent erecting a large memorial of a Rock Pigeon or perhaps a Feral Pigeon - I'll leave that decision to the council. I don't think a Wood Pigeon memorial would be particularly appropriate because I don't think they did too much for us during the war. Other than food.

Norman Farnsbarns McArthey is also against the cull, but has little sympathy for the winged layabouts:

I say train the blighters to do an honest days work and to earn their right to live in Her Royal Majesties Royal borough. Maybe they could be trained to assist the police as they could spot crime while on high and report back to the station swiftly. The more aggressive ones could become a sort of elite police flighting unit that could intervene in violent incidents that are sadly becoming all to common in our wonderful town.

Mr Dallinger, meanwhile, thinks there may be a better way to tackle the pigeon menace:

I think the correct solution would be to hack the wings off as many pigeons as possible before joining them together to create one large wing. This could be wafted at the pigeons by any member of the townsfolk when numbers got too high. Children could also shelter under it at times of heavy rain or possibly loud thunder.

And finally, try this heartfelt contribution from "Fancy Coo-Coo":

I'm horrified at the very idea anyone might want to harm these gentle creatures. I myself was raised by pigeons after being abandoned in Trafalgar Square as a young nipper. Therefore I know how noble and generous a species they really are. If anyone were to kill a pigeon in this way, it would be as though they are slaughtering one of my own family. It's murder, I say!

Good stuff. A round of applause for the Surrey Comet in preserving these and other equally insightful comments for posterity. You can enjoy the whole debate right here. ®

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