A German town’s referendum on culling pigeons has led to an uproar by animal rights activists

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BERLIN (AP) — An ongoing fight between residents and animal rights activists over whether to cull pigeons in a small German town has led to an uproar — even though a majority of the residents voted in favor of culling the birds in a referendum earlier this month.

On Thursday, officials in the central German town of Limburg were still considering whether to proceed with the referendum results.

“There is no timetable for implementation,” town spokesman Johannes Laubach told The Associated Press. “The resolution stipulates that there will be another comprehensive case-by-case review before implementation.”

For years, the issue of the town’s pigeons has frustrated many of the residents and business owners. The legal fight was prompted by complaints over the birds’ dropping from residents, restaurateurs and market vendors around Limburg’s Neumarkt central square.

A recent count of the pigeons showed that there were around 700 birds living in the town, German news agency dpa reported.

Last November, the town’s council decided that a falconer should be commissioned to decimate Limburg’s pigeon population, likely killing them by breaking their necks. The decision was met with fierce protests from animal rights activists and a petition for signatures, after which a referendum was initiated, dpa said.

After this month’s referendum, Limburg’s mayor Marius Hahn said the citizens had decided “that the pigeon population should be reduced over the next two years by a falconer who stuns and kills animals,” the report added.

However, animal rights groups also expressed shock about the outcome of the June 9 referendum, calling it a “death sentence” and threatening legal action.

On Thursday, spokesman Laubach told the AP that a final review of the implementation of the referendum was still pending.

In a 2011 decision, an administrative court in Kassel, in the state of Hesse, where Limburg is located, had linked the killing of pigeons to various conditions, such as the size of the population, health risks or damage to buildings.

“This means that we have to check carefully whether we are fulfilling the requirements of the administrative court in Kassel,” Laubach said. “The question here is whether the pigeons are causing damage to buildings, whether they are causing health hazards or whether the population is so large that action can be taken. ”

Town representatives, the mayor and and administrative officials have had their share of grief as well, being on the receiving end of insults and threatening emails, letters and phone calls by “pigeon welfare activists” for a long time, Laubach said.

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