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Courthouse 'shoos' away pigeon problem

By Jonathan Radford, jradford@wcyb.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:35:01 AM CST
Updated On: Oct 16 2013 06:00:00 PM CDT

For years problems have been piling up on top of the Washington County, Tennessee courthouse. Now county officials are using a new method to eradicate hundreds of pigeons.

WASHINGTON CO., Tenn. -

For years problems have been piling up on top of the Washington County, Tennessee courthouse.

Now county officials are using a new and proven method to eradicate hundreds of pigeons that have made their home on top of the courthouse. The county wants the pigeons to fly elsewhere to reduce health and environmental concerns in the downtown.

The old Washington County, Tennessee courthouse has been the center of downtown Jonesborough for 100 years, but for the past 20 years the pigeons have been the center of attention.

Michael Rutherford is the county zoning administrator and he tells News 5 that county is studying how the exterior of the courthouse can be restored, but there's a problem. "In order to start that process, the biggest problem we faced besides the deteriorating lumber and trim was the was the abatement of the pigeons. They have been a problem for the courthouse and the town of Jonesborough for the past 20 years," said Rutherford.

The problem exists because of what the pigeons leave behind -- waste.

They found a non-lethal way to get rid of the birds. "A predator of a pigeon could be a crow, so this device could be described as a large stereo system. It puts off predator sounds that are offensive to the pigeons," said Rutherford.

Rutherford News 5 that the system was designed by GRC Construction Services in Kingsport. The speakers sound off every four minutes 24 hours a day, and the county hopes the top of the courthouse will soon be free of the pigeons.

But finding an abatement method that makes everyone happy hasn't been easy.

Janet Browning is the owner of Hands Around the World, a business across the street from the courthouse. She tells us she's glad to see a more humane approach. "I feel fine about something that can take the population elsewhere. I did not feel good about the poisoning," said Browning. "They fly over the courthouse and back around, it's beautiful," said Browning.

Rutherford told News 5 that the system costs the county $300 and over the next few weeks they'll see if they need to add more speakers.