Pigeons dropping problems and more on Virginia City | NevadaAppeal.com

Pigeons dropping problems and more on Virginia City

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Pigeons perch on the roof of the Virginia City's Visitors Center on Wednesday morning.

Virginia City residents experience fly-overs every day, but it’s not military jets doing the flying – it’s pigeons, and the bombs they are dropping are causing concerns about health and the town’s image.

The situation at the Virginia City visitors center is getting so bad that Susan Sutton, executive director of the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority, contacted the Storey County Commissioners.

She said the large flock of pigeons that roosts on the roof of the visitors center at C and Taylor streets is creating a health hazard as well as diminishing the tourist experience.

“It’s a potential health hazard to have pigeon feces everywhere,” she said. “Because we rely on the tourist trade, it’s also a real problem to have pigeon feces everywhere visitors step.”

Commissioner Greg “Bum” Hess said that in addition to the feces problem, the pigeons are eating the granules off of the roof of the historic Crystal Bar, which houses the visitors center.

Not only that, he said, they drink from the basins at the county’s water facility.

Sutton is investigating the possibility of placing speakers on the visitor center roof that transmit a high-pitched sound pigeons don’t like, to shoo them away.

“Does it sound like a 12-gauge?” Hess asked.

Some local residents are feeding the pigeons, causing the flock at C and Taylor streets to grow larger and larger, Sutton said. “Mostly, it’s presenting a health hazard to the residents of Virginia City,” Sutton said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, disease risks from pigeons or pigeon droppings include West Nile Virus, histoplasmosis, cryptococcus and psittacosis, with West Nile Virus being the most serious.

Hess said that feeding the pigeons creates a nuisance and should be covered under the county’s nuisance ordinance, so Sheriff Jim Miller agreed to contact residents believed to be feeding pigeons and request their cooperation.

County Manager Pat Whitten said he would contact the state health department for any possible enforcement efforts.

The commissioners will also place the issue on their next agenda to see if some action or enforcement can be taken, none too soon for some in Virginia City.

“It’s getting pretty nasty, even down the boardwalk,” said Alex Atriedes, a clerk in the Mark Twain Bookstore. “It’s just eewwwww.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.