Florence bans feeding pigeons

Thu, 10/12/2006 - 05:38

Florence's administrators have banned people from feeding pigeons in the city's picturesque piazzas and from giving bread to the ducks in the River Arno .

Claudio Del Lungo, the councillor in charge of environmental issues, this week issued an ordinance which envisages 50-euro fines for anyone caught throwing crumbs at the pigeons which flock in central squares .

"The habit of feeding pigeons continuously in our streets has created a new form of litter," he said, explaining that the uneaten pieces of bread and seeds left on the ground attracted rats and insects .

"As well as causing hygienic conditions that are unacceptable in a city like ours, it has also encouraged the pigeon population to grow, causing damage to buildings and monuments," he continued .

In Florence, as in many Italian cities, authorities are waging a continuous battle against pigeon droppings which stain statues and famous buildings and can, in sufficient quantity, even corrode metal and marble .

Already, many building in Florence have rows of metal spikes fitted along cornices and window ledges to stop birds landing there and relieving themselves .

Combined with rain, the birds' excrement can also cause accidents by making roads and pavements slippery .

But Florence's bird problems are not confined to its growing pigeon population. The ducks that live on and beside the city's river, the Arno, are apparently being overfed by enthusiastic visitors .

Del Lungo said council experts strongly suspected that some ducks had already died from overeating .

As with the pigeons, there was also the problem that uneaten food left on or by the river would end up providing a regular meal for rodents, flies and other unwelcome forms of animal life .

The new rules admit only a few exceptions to the ban on feeding birds. Birds can be given grain when they are on farmland, or on private property, as long as the grain is put in proper feeding containers .

These containers must be constructed so that smaller birds such as swallows can get the food but not pigeons .

The rules also specify that in the few instances when it is permissible to feed wild birds they must be given grain and nothing else .