Gretna Works to Solve a Pigeon Problem

Reporter: Jeremy Mills

Gretna, VA - Officials in the town of Gretna say they have a problem. Their downtown area is overrun with hundreds of pigeons, and they're not sure how to get rid of them.

Gretna has been battling the birds for years. In the past, they've set off explosions to scare them away, given police permission to shoot them on site, and even had a shopkeeper kill hundreds of them with poisoned corn. After all of that, they're still there.

Arlene Creasy runs a clothing store in downtown Gretna. She says these birds are keeping customers away.

"If you park your car there for one moment, you're going to be covered with pigeon droppings and if you walk up the street, you're going to be lucky you came away with a clean outfit," Creasy said.

Work crews now wash the sidewalks once a week and still can't keep it completely clean. Other efforts have also failed.

"We put an owl out there with big eyes, we heard that would scare them off and I think it just attracted them," David Lilly, Gretna Town Manager said.

The town is working on humane ways to get rid of them, but it's not that easy.

"These are homing pigeons for crying out loud, if we trap them and take them to West Virginia and let them loose, they're going to fly right back to Gretna," Lilly said.

Some in the town are hoping the pigeons win this fight because downtown wouldn't be the same without them.

"They don't bother nobody or nothing," Leroy Murrell, Jr., From Gretna

"I like looking at them, they don't bother me so I like to see them," Vincent Davis, Lives in Gretna

Creasy wants them to try walking in front of her shop everyday and see if they still feel the same, because she's not changing her mind.

"I don't care what they do with them, if they can just get rid of them," Creasy said.

There is an expert trapper from Danville coming in next week to try catching the birds. He plans to keep them in cages.

If you are wondering how the pigeons came to Gretna, we're told they were brought there in the early 1900s, as part of a homing pigeon race back up north. Some of them stayed and created the colony that's there now.

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