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Arizona town trying to get rid of pigeons - and droppings

SHARE Arizona town trying to get rid of pigeons - and droppings

The warm morning breeze wafting in over the Mohave Mountains brings a chalky stench into Roxanne Heyl's yard.

On a small rise overlooking Heyl's house, the red roof of a neighbor's home is covered this morning with a flock of about 30 pigeons that contentedly coo, strut and - inevitably - make waste that scents the air."That's not many compared to what it usually is," Heyl says as she hoses off her driveway. "I've counted as many as 200 over there. She feeds them."

Heyl's neighbor is one of those in this resort and retirement haven along the Colorado River who regularly feed the thousands of pigeons that live here.

Local experts estimate there are about 15,000 pigeons - about one for every three people - and community leaders want to get rid of the birds.

Pigeons aren't native to the desert, where summer temperatures can reach 110 degrees, and the origin of the Lake Havasu City flock is unclear.

Local legend has it that hundreds were released at the dedication 30 years ago of the city landmark: the London Bridge, which town founder Robert McCulloch had dismantled, shipped to Arizona and reassembled here.

The pigeons leave tons of droppings atop homes, commercial buildings and government offices. When a rare rainfall comes, the mess oozes off roofs and fouls ventilation systems.

Pigeon feeders are more than outcasts - they're outlaws. At the urging of pigeon-control advocates from Lake Havasu City, the Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted recently to make feeding pigeons a crime carrying a $100 fine.

That's fine with John Rathbun, who lives in the red-roofed house near Heyl. He said he's been trying to stop his wife from feeding pi-geons.

"They carry diseases," Rathbun said. "The droppings get all over the place."

The pigeon problem has been front-page news for years in Lake Havasu City, which is about 130 miles northwest of Phoenix.

One couple was put on a year's probation and fined $1,000 last year on charges of creating a public nuisance by feeding hundreds of pigeons at their home.