Letter I sent Sunday Morning Post, appeared today (edited a little there):
I refer to the letter from O.H. Mark (4 January), saying we need a strategy to cull pigeons.
Sadly, it appears O.H. Mark is among those who have been hoodwinked by people claiming we are threatened by flu carried by wild birds including pigeons. Such claims have more to do with finding scapegoats for the shortcomings of the poultry industry, coupled with ignorance of evolution, than of reality.
While birds - especially waterfowl - indeed carry a variety of bird flus, they are not major vectors of the nasty variants of H5N1 that have evolved in the poultry industry. This is because the nasty variants are lethal to most birds; and as dead ducks - and dead pigeons - don't fly, the variants quickly die out in the wild.
Further, the H5N1 variants have evolved in poultry, not in humans. Hence they are highly dangerous to birds including chickens; but are not a substantial, plague-like health risk to humans. A dangerous human flu must evolve in humans, and evidence shows this requires special circumstances - soldiers massed in World War One trench warfare, or people gathered in rural areas during grandiose socialist experiments.
I hope, then, that O.H. Mark will not run for cover on next seeing pigeons, and will consider that though his family lives within the city, his daughter need not grow up in a sadly sterile environment.