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Pigeons in Hesse

Photo: Uwe Zucchi/dpa

Voters in Limburg, Hesse, will soon vote in a referendum on whether pigeons should be specifically killed in their city or not. On Monday evening, the city council unanimously voted in favor of this approach, as a city spokesman announced. The referendum is scheduled for the day of the European and district elections on June 9th.

In November, the Limburg city council decided by a majority that the number of pigeons in the cathedral city should be limited - by specifically killing animals by breaking their necks. A count had previously shown that there were around 700 pigeons in Limburg. Protests by animal rights activists followed. When collecting signatures, the activists received enough votes for a citizens' initiative against the planned killing of the animals.

At Monday's meeting, the city councilors now had to decide whether they would revoke their decision to kill the pigeons in mid-November or whether the referendum would follow. The city spokesman said that citizens could now either vote not to implement the November decision and to refrain from killing animals - which is what the “Stop Pigeon Killing” initiative is calling for. Or they confirmed the city council's decision from November.

Mixed feelings among the initiators of the referendum

In order to overturn the city council's decision, not only a majority would have to speak out against the killing of pigeons in the referendum, according to "Hessenschau". The majority would also have to be at least 25 percent of those eligible to vote in Limburg: 6,681 votes.

Melanie Leonhardt, co-initiator of the citizens' initiative, said that it would have been desirable to have the resolution repealed. But they are happy to have achieved the referendum and now hope that those eligible to vote will choose an animal-friendly solution. The aim is to continue to educate people until the referendum takes place.

The Limburg City Pigeon Project campaigns for birth control in supervised pigeon lofts. The animals are provided with food there and their clutches are removed so that no chicks can hatch.

Before the decision in November, the Limburg Environmental Committee sought advice from, among others, the falconer and hunter Berthold Geis from the Limburg-Weilburg district and voted in favor of killing the animals. Geis considers the supervised pigeon lofts to be ineffective and kills city pigeons himself on behalf of municipalities and companies. He won the license for this in court several times and thus gained nationwide fame.