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MTA deals with pigeon problem at LIRR trestle in Lindenhurst

Lindenhurst Village officials and state Sen. Phil Boyle are demanding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority remove netting under the Long Island Rail Road trestle in Lindenhurst after residents reported that more than a dozen pigeons died after getting trapped.

The MTA had placed the netting there on March 2, according to MTA spokesman Salvatore Arena, after village officials asked them to address the large amounts of pigeon droppings on sidewalks and parking lots on Hoffman Avenue near Wellwood Avenue in the heart of the downtown. In addition, the MTA set up cages with lures to trap pigeons caught in the netting.

The contractor who installed the nylon netting, Eagle Bird Control Inc. of Manhattan, did not return to check on the cages or netting, Arena said, and as a result the trapped pigeons died. Eagle did not respond to phone and email requests for comment. Arena said the MTA has contracted with the company since 2009 for systemwide work and currently has a three-year contract not to exceed $354,572.

Arena said the MTA was made aware of the problem on Monday and Eagle returned to make fixes and empty the cages this week. During that time, he said, three dead pigeons were removed, eight live pigeons were set free and three more remained as of Thursday afternoon caught in the netting.

In a statement, the LIRR said it takes a "proactive and humane approach" to pigeon problems and that netting and spikes that deter landing have "proven to be an effective deterrent . . . that typically poses no threat of harm or injury to the animals." The statement said that the LIRR's "failure to adequately monitor traps resulted in the death of several pigeons. For that we are truly sorry." The statement added that staff have been reminded "to be diligent" in monitoring netting at stations.

Upset residents and local business owners said they spotted more than a few trapped and dead birds. T.C. Kross, who owns the nearby Village Pub, said she counted 16 bird carcasses and that some birds were still trapped as of Thursday afternoon, despite the fixes.

"They're still leaving live animals in for a slow death of dehydration and starvation and that's unacceptable," she said.

Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said he had urged the MTA to remove the netting, but upon hearing from a Newsday reporter that birds remain trapped, he said he would insist the netting come down immediately and that a "more humane approach" be taken. "The LIRR and MTA need to remove these nets, period," he said. "Even if in the short term there are some more droppings, protecting the birds is more important."

Lindenhurst Mayor Thomas Brennan called the situation "cruelty to animals" and also insisted the netting be removed.

The MTA budgets about $225,000 per year systemwide for pigeon abatement measures at 35 stations, Arena said. The Lindenhurst work cost $7,400.

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