Notice an alarming new noise in Bathurst Station? Fear not—the world isn’t ending. The TTC is just trying to get rid of some riders who refuse to pay their fare.
The next time you walk down to the Bathurst station subway platforms, don’t be startled by the high-pitched squeals and squawks emitting from above a run-down photobooth. They’re distressed pigeon calls from a product called Bird Chase, and they comprise the latest strategy from the TTC to combat unwanted pigeons who wander into the Annex subway station. (In recent years, riders have uploaded YouTube videos of pigeons waiting on the station platform, and occasionally wandering onto subway trains to the delight—or horror, if you’re no fun—of transit users.)
Brad Ross, the Communications Director for the TTC, says Bird Chase is one of multiple pigeon-deterring strategies, which also include installing spikes where they roost and signage asking riders not to feed the birds. “There’s a bakery at Bathurst station, which likely attracts them,” Ross explains in an email. “It’s a test site, and a station where pigeons are aplenty. But it’s not so much that pigeons are annoying, it’s that they’re dirty [with their droppings].”
Six weeks after Bird Chase’s implementation, the TTC is getting the pigeon-scaring results they want. But not everyone likes the accompanying sound, which lasts for two minutes at 10-minute intervals. Many TTC riders during a recent evening rush-hour flashed bewildered looks when the sound came on, and Leann, a cashier at the adjacent Fit for Life, strongly dislikes it. “It’s annoying,” she says. “The pigeons aren’t doing anyone any harm. Plus, where are they going to go?”
When contacted, a spokesperson from Bird-B-Gone, the maker of the Bird Chase device, justified the use of their product thusly: “I’d definitely rather hear a pigeon in distress than see them shit everywhere.”