Pigeon fanciers have taken aim at two roosting birds of prey at a Taunton landmark who have been given a leg-up on the housing ladder thanks to public funds.
Taunton Deane Borough Council put £3,500 towards the £7,000 cost of setting up a nest box for peregrine falcons that have set up home at St Mary Magdalene Church tower and a webcam so people can keep a close eye on them.
But that hasn’t gone down well with the pigeon racing community, who believe the birds are a threat to not only their beloved pigeons, but also songbirds and wildlife in the area.
The predators can swoop down on their prey at speeds of up to 180mph and keeping the other birds in the area at bay.
While that may seem like good news to some, Mick Templeman, a pigeon fancier from Taunton, says he’s concerned about the new nesting box.
“The fact that there is now a nest box at the church is a huge blow for both myself and other fanciers in the area and it’s only a matter of time before our pigeons become victims,” he said.
“Peregrine Falcons perform savage and harrowing attacks on smaller birds such as racing pigeons which is causing devastation amongst my community.
“If our birds are lucky enough to survive an attack, they become extremely disorientated and if they are injured it makes it impossible to train them. It’s truly heart-breaking to watch.
“I have an extremely close bond with my birds and the sport is one that I hold close to my heart.”The falcons have previously been described as “natural pest control” for the church, with feathers from their prey frequently in evidence over the vicarage lawn.
But Mr Templeman says there would be outcry if other pets were being targeted by the falcons.
“This problem shouldn’t be controversial, if our pigeons were respected as highly as other pets such as dogs or cats then there would be no issue for pigeon fanciers,” he said.
“I can’t understand why people cannot see the sublimity of these birds, especially as they played such a huge role in the success of our country in both World Wars.”
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