By: thinkSpain , Monday, August 10, 2009
The city of Barcelona has admitted that it needs the people's help in the face of ever-increasing plagues of pigeons, rats and tiger mosquitos affecting the area.
The city's Public Health Agency has requested help from the citizens after admitting that the measures taken so far 'have not had the desired effect'.
Barcelona has one of the densest populations of pigeons in Europe, with almost 6,000 birds per km2 compared with an average of only 500 per km2.
Victor Peracho, in charge of zoonosis (the transmission of disease from animals to humans, or vice versa) for the Public Health Agency, blames 'the people who feed the pigeons' for the massive increase in numbers, saying that despite the tens of thousands captured each year, there can be 'no short-term solution' while people continue to feed the remaining birds.
Since feeding pigeons is not against the law, the town council has initiated a pilot project this summer, distributing leaflets in certain areas of the city advising people of the downside of encouraging pigeons by feeding them, citing the deterioration of buildings and the risk of contracting diseases like salmonellosis from the birds.
The number of tiger mosquitos has also increased rapidly, especially in the rural areas of the city, but fumigation is not an option as it only lasts a few hours. Penacho is hoping the tiger mosquito problem will diminish naturally as people start to develop immunity to its venom after only one sting.
Rats, however, are a problem across the whole city, especially in tunnels and where sewers have been left open for building works. Up until now, the rat population been kept underground, rather than reduced, but the huge construction sites around the new AVE and line 9 of the metro have led to a massive increase in the number of rats coming out into the open.