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Pigeons fall to death from roost
- Poisoning and contaminated food suspected

Siliguri, Nov. 22: Around 20 pigeons were found dead under a tree where they used to roost on Burdwan Road here this evening.

The dead birds were not removed till late in the evening as no official came from the animal resource development department, whose office in Siliguri was closed today.

Environmentalists said the Indian rock pigeons had fallen from the tree all of a sudden probably because of poisoning or contaminated food and demanded a probe to find out the cause of the deaths to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

Local people said they had noticed a pigeon lying dead on the ground around 3.30pm. “Soon, other birds started falling one after another from the rain tree along the road. Some of them were still alive and we gave them water. But they didn’t survive,” said Akhil Roy, a mechanic at a nearby garage.

“We also found that some pigeons were perching on the branches in a state of drowsiness. They, too, fell and died.”

As the news spread, several people gathered in the area. Environmentalists, including Animesh Bose, the programme co-ordinator of the Siliguri-based Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation, also visited the spot.

“The dead birds are Indian rock pigeons,” said Bose. “It looks that the birds died after consuming contaminated or poisoned food.We have spotted a barn owl and some parakeets perched on the same tree. None of these two species died, as, unlike pigeons, they are not fed by people. The contamination is limited to the pigeons which roosted on this tree,” said Bose, who is also a member of the state wildlife board.

When Bose called up forest officers and informed them about the incident, he was told that the matter had to be dealt with by the ARD department. However, the ARD department, which has a vet hospital at Church Road, a stone’s throw from the spot, did not respond to the call.

“The vet hospital here does not remain open round the clock. We have taken note of this before also. It is necessary that vets are always available at the hospital,” said Bose.

“Loss of birds is no less significant and we want the ARD department to find out the cause of the deaths so that poisoning and contamination can be avoided in future.” The ARD officials could not be contacted. The dead birds lay on the road till late in the evening.

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