Historic Nevada town goes to the birds

/ Source: The Associated Press

Local officials are trying to scare away a large flock of pigeons before the birds drive away tourists in the historic mining town of Virginia City.

The pigeons that roost on the roof of the small town's visitor center pose a health hazard as well as a threat to the tourist experience, said Susan Sutton, executive director of the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority.

"It's a potential health hazard to have pigeon feces everywhere," she told the Nevada Appeal. "Because we rely on the tourist trade, it's also a real problem to have pigeon feces everywhere visitors step."

Storey County Commissioner Greg "Bum" Hess said the pigeons also are eating small particles off the roof of the historic Crystal Bar, which houses the visitor center.

To shoo the birds away, officials are considering a plan to place speakers on the roof that transmit a high-pitched sound that pigeons don't like.

Officials also are seeking cooperation from local residents accused of causing the flock to grow by feeding the birds.

Hess said feeding of pigeons should be covered under the county's nuisance ordinance, and Sheriff Jim Miller agreed to contact residents believed to be responsible.

County Manager Pat Whiten said he would contact state health officials concerning possible enforcement efforts.

County commissioners will consider solutions at their next meeting.

Located about 25 miles southeast of Reno, Virginia City became a major 19th century city after discovery of one of the world's richest silver veins there. Its wealth paved the way for Nevada's statehood and helped build San Francisco.