Thursday 1 April 2021

Community Highlight: Rita's Re-Coop-eration

Rita Schmidt rehabilitates orphaned or injured pigeons. Here is her story. 

1. How and when did you form your group? 
 I am an affiliated rehabilitation facility under the umbrella of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation. So far I haven't come up with a name for myself . . . maybe "Rita's Re-Coop-eration? 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
I rehabilitate pigeons that are either orphaned or injured. To me this is important because pigeons are lovely birds and they need every chance in life. I house, feed, and clean up after the birds. I encourage them when they're first learning to fly and when they learn to eat seed. Once a pigeon is ready to "graduate" (flying, eating seed, fully feathered, injury healed), they go on to their final home. This is a farm outside of the city with ready access to daily food, water, and shelter. They are kept penned up there for 2-3 weeks so that they come to recognize this as their home (so they don't just fly back to the city). 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
I took in over 100 pigeons between June and December 2020. A large proportion of these were able to "graduate." There was unfortunately some mortality, but it was minimal and is to be expected when you are dealing with very young and/or sick birds. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
I would like to make improvements to the shed where the pigeons are housed (new paint, flooring, a window that opens). I would like to improve my "success" rate. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be? 
The banning of Avitrol, a type of poison that is used for pigeons (and doesn't work - actually causes a resulting increase in population). ***

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
There aren't really any volunteer opportunities, especially with COVID. However, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation is always looking for volunteers. 

*** The Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan posted the following information on their Facebook page on March 21: “From April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 our Wildlife 911 Hotline received a total of 317 calls about injured and sick pigeons. Tragically, many of these birds passed away due to being cruelly poisoned. Many people think that poisoning is an extremely effective way to kill pigeons – WRONG! Poisoning is a very short-term control strategy as they will simply reproduce at a faster rate. Also, it’s nearly impossible to be able to target just pigeons alone – what if you accidentally poison a different bird? What if someone’s cat or dog eats a poisoned pigeon carcass? Many non-target animals end up suffering the same terrible fate that the poor pigeon did. Poisons cause the animal to suffer from a brutal death - impaired nervous systems, erratic flight, tremors, and violent convulsions. The poor bird will suffer for hours before finally succumbing to the effects of the poison. We understand that many people consider pigeons to be “pests” but no animal deserves to suffer cruelly. Please seek alternative and humane options if you are attempting to do any sort of pest control.” 

Further Information 

We’re planning to highlight the work of volunteer organizations in our communities on a regular basis over the next year. Do email us if you would like your organization to be profiled on EcoFriendly Sask

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).