Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New York City Considers Designated Feeding Areas for Pigeons


“Safe pigeon-feeding zones” may be designated around the city as part of the negotiations between animal rights groups and the Brooklyn city councilman who has proposed fining pigeon feeders as much as $1,000 as strategy to control New York’s pigeon population.

Fines, which had been used successfully in Basel, Switzerland, to limit pigeon proliferation, were the most concrete proposal in a pigeon report issued by Councilman Simcha Felder’s office in November. Other ideas in the report included pigeon birth control and a pigeon czar.

But the report and the proposed fines brought out a number of pigeon proponents who defended the urban birds’ rights to co-exist with humans in New York’s sprawl. Since November, Mr. Felder’s office has been meeting with a number of groups over the fine-for-feeding legislation. In December, at one of those meetings, the Humane Society brought up the idea of safe pigeon-feeding zones with Mr. Felder’s office.

“If our idea was, there are too many pigeons around where people are walking, waiting for the subway, sitting in parks, etc.,” said Eric Kuo, a spokesman for Mr. Felder. “Someone brought up, if there are areas where people are not around, what’s the harm of allowing feeding there?”

The pigeon-friendly zones could include less-densely trafficked areas in Central Park and Prospect Park, Mr. Kuo said. The City Council’s lawyers who draft legislation have been asked to see if such a plan is feasible.

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