On Sunday, Stilleposters were in a flap over what was perceived to be a cruel method of deterring pigeons being used at the TD Bank at Dundas and Ossington. Lara Williston posted photos of the location’s façade, which appeared to have some pigeons’ feathers stuck to it, followed by photos of a pigeon sitting on the sidewalk with its underside covered in some kind of thick, sticky substance. Williston explained what she had witnessed prior to snapping the photos:
The feathers that you see on the right side of the pillar are stuck in some of the glue and were ripped out a bird’s wing that was dangling from the ledge. The pigeon that you see in the picture had fallen from the ledge and was glued to the front steps leading up to the door. He couldn’t move his wings or walk because he was covered in this substance. I don’t know if TD is specifically responsible or if it is the landlord of the building, but I suspect it is both, and either way it is an unacceptable and inhumane way of treating any animal, regardless of whether or not it is viewed as a pest.
The disturbing images prompted a generally negative reaction from Stilleposters, some of who wrote that they had placed calls to Animal Services, the Ministry of the Environment, City Hall, and the SPCA (apparently an agent was dispatched, though from what organization was not specified). Then, on Tuesday around noon, a new poster named mcram appeared on the boards, claiming to be a TD employee and offering this explanation:
Hello, I’m Matthew Cram from TD. On Sunday, a contractor we hired was installing a non-harmful pigeon deterrent (a device that dissuades pigeons from landing on our sign and making unsolicited “deposits” on customers). There was some extra adhesive from the installation of the device and unfortunately one pigeon did get stuck and died. The contractor came back yesterday to check the installation and remove any extra adhesive and we’re confident it’s now safe. This was a complete accident and we’re really sorry it happened. TD has been supporting wildlife and the environment for nearly 20 years through our TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (www.fef.ca) and this includes pigeons too!
There was some suspicion as to whether Cram was legit, but as his TD email address and this link prove, he indeed works in communications for the company. Over the phone, he explained that the pest control company Abell was hired to install metal spikes along the building to prevent pigeons from landing and thus making “deposits” on customers. Abell’s installation job was sloppy, too much adhesive was used, and as a result a pigeon got stuck. “We talked to them, and they assured us this wouldn’t happen again,” Cram says. “As soon as I saw the thread, I thought, ‘No, this can’t be right.'” His story checked out: Torontoist dropped by the Dundas & Ossington branch yesterday and saw “porcupine wire” installed along the tops of signage and other popular pigeon-resting spots. Abell employees were at work, and there were no glue traps (or dead or injured pigeons) to be seen.
Cram’s handling of the sticky situation seemed to satisfy Stillepost readers, and some commented that it was a good move on the part of TD to openly address the issue, especially on a message board. Though he’s not too familiar with Stillepost (he was alerted to the pigeon thread by a bank employee), Cram notes that this sort of response speaks to the “new reality of news.” “I read a lot of things, like Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs and websites. We like to know what people are saying about us, and it’s interesting how we find out about a lot of things.”
Could this be the future: corporate spokespeople like Cram responding to online criticism (even slightly misguided cries of “bird torture”) in a timely and sensitive fashion? And to think, all it took to bring together indie-rock message board enthusiasts and a big soulless banking corporation was concern for flying rats.
All photos by Lara Williston.