ALMOST 50 pigeons have been rescued after they were found trapped in the loft space of a Southampton flat block. 

HART Wildlife Rescue were alerted by a member of the public late in the evening on Wednesday, February 10, that they were bringing 46 pigeons to their wildlife hospital. 

This situation had begun to unfold earlier in the day where many pigeons had been found trapped within a roof space at a Southampton City Council owned residential block of flats on Greenpark Road, Millbrook.

It has been reported that the member of the public had originally contacted Southampton City Council and the RSPCA but sadly neither were available to rescue the animals immediately.

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Residents at the flats allowed the would-be pigeon rescuers into the building and they began to remove the pigeons.

HART Wildlife Rescue received the pigeons at around 11pm that night and many of them were emaciated and dehydrated, including baby and juvenile birds. 

HART could only take 36 of the pigeons and the other 10 were sent to The Happy Hedgehog Rescue in Yateley. 

All of the birds that arrived at the hospital were started on fluids immediately and by the next morning all were alert and had significantly improved. 

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Within 24 hours they were all eating and drinking normally and had begun to gain weight.

After the initial pigeons were rescued further rescues were carried out by a team of wildlife rescuers and a roofer who managed to secure the rest of the birds, this included birds and chicks which had already died.

The rescues were carried out over two days from February 10 to 12. 

Southampton City council sent out a pest control officer on February 12 - two days after being notified and seven days after the birds were originally trapped - but by this time the birds had already been rescued by members of the public.

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HART has told of how they were left "outraged" by the " apparent lack of care" by Southampton City Council, and contacted the authority. 

In an email from the District Estates Maintenance Manager they confirmed that their tradesmen had attended the premises on February 5 to repair and replace slipped roof tiles.

The tradesmen had noted excessive bird waste in the guttering but had attributed it to birds perching on the gutters watching a fast-food shop over the road.

Unfortunately, the slipped tiles on the roof had been the access point for around 68 pigeons who were living in the loft, and had been there for some time as there were the young birds.

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By repairing the tiles and failing to investigate if the loft was occupied by wildlife, the pigeons had been trapped inside and left to die from dehydration and starvation.

It was not until five days later that a member of the public realised there were pigeons trapped on the premises. 

A spokesperson from HART Wildlife said: "It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal and once a wild animal becomes trapped in a building it is the property owner (in this case Southampton City Council) who are legally responsible for the animal’s welfare, for example by the immediate provision of food and water. 

"This case was extremely unfortunate and caused immense and unnecessary suffering to the flock of feral pigeons. 

"Southampton City Council need to commit to ensuring this does not happen again and that they employ suitably trained tradesmen who know to check areas for wildlife before sealing them, we would hope anyone involved in these failings would not be used to work on Council projects in the future."

A spokesperson from Southampton City Council said: "We are saddened to hear about this incident, which led to bird being trapped in a roof space during some routine maintenance work. 

" The protection of biodiversity in Southampton is one of our key priorities and we try to do all we can to minimise harm to existing habitats and wildlife as we work.

"We're sorry this hasn't happened on this occasion. 

"We'd like to thank residents for alerting us to the situation and the HART Wildlife Rescue team, who do a brilliant job across the region, for their rescue efforts. 

"We are taking all reasonable steps to monitor activity at this address, as well as tightening our procedures, to ensure this doesn't happen again."