Police Commissioner Ray Kelly presented the councilman with a plastic pigeon and a tongue-in cheek certificate of appreciation applauding his fight against the birds. ( see right)
November 30, 2007, 2:55 pm
Rally Protests Proposed Ban on Feeding Pigeons
By Jennifer 8. Lee
Pigeon supporters at City Hall today.
(Photo: Jennifer 8. Lee/The New York Times - see left
First they came for the pigeons. Then what next? Sparrows? Squirrels?
That was the rallying cry of the about two dozen pigeon proponents who staged a noontime protest in front of City Hall today criticizing Councilman Simcha Felder’s proposed legislation to ban pigeon feeding.
They carried signs with slogans like “Give pigeons their peace and “Have you known anybody killed by a pigeon?”
The pigeon proponents passionately defended the feral bird’s right to co-exist with humans in the city, holding it up as a symbol of nature in the urban wilderness.“We are voices for the wildlife in New York City that we would like to preserve,” said Naomi Semeiak, a demonstrator also works on banning horse carriages because it is an “evil industry.”
The demonstration was organized by People for Pigeons — a grass-roots coalition of the New York City Wildlife Alliance, the Urban Wildlife Coalition, the New York Bird Club, the Greenwich Village Pigeon Club and others — which has taken an ardent stand on protecting pigeons. The group has written a rebuttal [pdf] of Councilman Felder’s report [pdf], assembled talking points and compiled a list of names of animal welfare and government officials to lobby.
Jackie Mock, 21, founder of the Greenwich Village Pigeon Club, had silk-screened a number of shirts playing off the famed Milton Glaser logo: I (HEART) NY (PIGEON).
“We love underappreciated things,” said Anna Millholland, 20, another Greenwich Village Pigeon Club member who was carrying a sign with a picture of Charles Darwin with a pigeon superimposed standing on his head.
“The pigeon for us is the symbol of the underappreciated,” Ms. Millholland said.
Among their littany of pro-pigeon arguments: pigeons are not a health threat, they played an important role during World War II (”They have sacrificed their lives for humans,” one demonstrator said), that pigeons counterbalance the city’s rat population, and they teach the city’s children an appreciation for living creatures.
While demonstrators had hoped to feed some pigeons during the protest as a mark of solidarity, City Hall was determinedly a pigeon-free zone on Friday afternoon.
(Perhaps the pigeons were wary of Councilman Felder and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s feelings toward them? But a police officer in the security booth observed, “We see more squirrels.”)
Councilman Felder is not anti-pigeon, said Eric Kuo, his spokesman, who was at the rally.
“We like pigeons,” Mr. Kuo said.
The report detailed many proposals in dealing with the burgeoning population, but only made one proposal, banning the feeding. Feeding the pigeons is actually bad for them, Mr. Kuo said, citing the support from PETA and the ASPCA for the proposed ban.
Mr. Kuo eyed the I (HEART) NY (PIGEON) shirts that were being sold for $5 apiece, but he was leery of the demonstrators at first. He believed they might harbor antipathy toward members of Councilman Felder’s office.
In the end, he bought the shirt, later writing by instant message: “I think it’s going to be my new favorite shirt.”
Some People Love Pigeons, Others Just Don't
After City Council member Simcha Felder announced he would propose legislation to ban feeding pigeons, bird lovers joined forces and, yesterday, held a rally at City Hall. Armed with posters like "Save Our Right to Feed Wildlife," "Have U Known Anybody Killed by a Pigeon?", "Pigeons are Beautiful Birds," and "Felder's Pigeon Bill is Poop!", the pro-pigeon protesters spoke out for their feathered friends. One demonstrator told City Room, "We are voices for the wildlife in New York City that we would like to preserve."
Felder's reasoning for a stop on pigeon feeding is that pigeon poop - an estimated 25 pounds over a year - damages city infrastructure and suggested the city needs a pigeon czar to deal with the issue. And he's not the only one with the bird on the brain: City Council member James Oddo had suggested pigeon birth control (approved by PETA and the Humane Society), after pigeon poop created gross conditions at the St. George ferry terminal. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg also seem to support a ban on pigeon feeding. This week, Felder was the subject of a New Yorker Talk of the Town piece, where he told Ben McGrath:
"Yesterday, I was having lunch in City Hall Park with a colleague, and this squirrel comes over, literally up to my feet, and he stands up,” Felder said. “I’m eating a bar of chocolate. I said, ‘What, are you kidding? You’re with them?’ It ran away, but five minutes later dozens of pigeons, like something out of some spook movie, show up, and they’re all over the place. I said, ‘Get a camera!’"
Of course, Felder isn't immune to teasing. The other day, during a community breakfast in Borough Park, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly gave him a plastic bird and a certificate which was, Kelly read, "in recognition of your dedicated work to protect the city from an imminent quality of life danger...Overfed pigeons pose a threat to the safety and well-being of every New Yorker. We are grateful for your leadership and courage in raising awareness of this issue." Kelly was joking. We think.
People for Pigeons is the umbrella group organizing smaller bird clubs; here's their website.
BY FRANK LOMBARDI
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
Saturday, December 1st 2007, 4:00 AM
Protests are common on the steps of City Hall, but the one held Friday was strictly for the birds.
Several dozen bird lovers and animal-rights advocates rallied to protest a proposed City Council bill to ban the feeding of pigeons, with offenses punishable by $1,000 fines.
Several participants carried signs denouncing Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) for proposing the bill. One stated: "Felder's Pigeon Bill is Poop!"
"We're not just a bunch of crazy pigeon people," said Johanna Clearfield of the Urban Wildlife Coalition.
What's next after you get rid of the pigeons, she posed.
Carol Moon of the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y., said feeding pigeons is a way "to teach children that having compassion for animals is just one part of having compassion for everyone."
Eric Kuo, a spokesman for Felder, commented, "Do they love pigeons, or do they just love feeding pigeons? We are looking for a humane way to address the overpopulation of pigeons."
Felder ruffles feathers with ban - Animal advocates peck at councilman
A local pol is using the beleaguered wings of pigeons to give flight to his political career, urban wildlife advocates chirped at a rally last week. On the steps of City Hall, activists wielding pro-pigeon placards decried the controversial series of proposals by City Councilmember Simcha Felder to curb the city’s pigeon population. Felder’s legislation, which has not yet been drafted, includes a ban on feeding pigeons—a galling measure that hit bird-lovers right in the gizzard.
“The city is not an indoor lobby. We need to ask ourselves how we can relate to our urban environment,” she said. Felder spokesperson Eric Kuo insisted his boss is has no beef with squab. “He doesn’t hate pigeons or want to harm pigeons,” Kuo said. “He just thinks there are too many pigeons, and I think a lot of New Yorkers [agree].”
“There is no credible threat.”