Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reduce Pigeon Numbers by Feeding?

Reduce pigeon numbers? Feed them ’til they’re too fat to breed
Mar 26 2008 by Barry Gibson, Huddersfield Daily Examiner

COUNCILLORS want to cut the number of pigeons in Huddersfield town centre – by feeding them.

The new plan was discussed at a meeting last week and if the proposal goes ahead, Kirklees staff will feed the pigeons between 7am and 8am at two locations at opposite ends of the town centre.

Brook Street and outside Wilkinson’s on New Street are possible locations.

Clr Tony Brice was at the Huddersfield Town Centre Sub Group meeting where the plan was discussed.

The Lindley Conservative said: “By feeding them, the hope is we will have a few, well-fed pigeons that don’t lay as many eggs. It’s the same system that’s been used in Trafalgar Square in London.”

But members of the public who feed the pigeons will be slapped with a fine.

Clr Brice said: “There will be quite a few enforcement officers who will fine anyone caught throwing bread to the birds.

“The message will get through eventually and people will stop feeding them.”

Clr Brice – who joked that his preferred solution to the pigeon problem would be to release a hawk in the town centre – said the birds were no more than vermin.

He said: “They carry a lot of disease, they are rats with feathers. You wouldn’t feed a rat if you saw it but people do feed pigeons.”

The plan is expected to go to Kirklees Council’s Cabinet for approval soon.

It is the latest idea to rid Huddersfield town centre of pigeons.

In July 1997 council officials suggested a cull by shooting the birds or catching them in traps.

But the council backed down after an Examiner poll found 64% of people against the idea.

Two years later the council spent £6,000 on netting at the railway bridges on John William Street and Fitzwilliam Street in a bid to stop pigeons roosting there.

In 2001 Kirklees decided to build special nests for the birds, and then remove the eggs before they hatched.

Later that year, councillors decided to fix five-inch long steel spikes to the balcony of Huddersfield Town Hall to stop pigeons nesting there.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New York Daily News Article: National Pigeon Day

Please visit National Pigeon Day for information.


Tuesday, March 25th 2008, 4:00 AM

Pigeons deserve own national holiday, says New York Bird Club founder

The average New York pigeon is not, as its legion of detractors contend, diseased. Or destructive. Or in need of Depends.

The oft-vilified denizen of city parapets and parks is simply plagued by public relations problems - and that's where Anna Dove swoops in.

The aptly named founder of the New York Bird Club believes the pigeon - like Abraham Lincoln and Christopher Columbus - deserves its own holiday. Her choice: June 13, the anniversary of World War I carrier pigeon Cher Ami's 1919 death.

"Pigeons are very friendly birds," says Dove, who provides feed for her feathered friends on the upper East Side. "They're getting a bad deal. It's terrible - people pick on them."

Some of it, she says, is simple pigeon slander - "rats with wings" is a typical slur.

A pigeon's life can turn quickly from cooing to cruelty - there's kidnapping for live pigeon shoots in neighboring states.

And just last month, a city worker was arrested after running down three pigeons with a golf cart.

"Little defenseless birds," says the self-appointed defender of the pigeon population, a lone voice among the many who see the birds as head-bobbing, wing-flapping pests.

Even with her bird blinders on, Dove can't deny the biggest complaint about pigeons: their ubiquitous droppings.

The typical urban pigeon, during its four-year lifespan, leaves about 100 pounds worth. Given that New York is home to an estimated 1 million pigeons ... well, you do the math.

From the Henry Hudson Expressway to Midtown Tunnel to the Lorimer St. el station in Brooklyn, the pigeon poop has created vile odors, layers of moldering filth and escalating cleanup tabs.

City Council member Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), tired of the endless droppings, proposed legislation last year to make feeding pigeons in public illegal.

The still-pending bill, similar to one in place in London, would make Dove and other pigeon enablers liable for a $1,000 fine.

Felder had no opposition to Dove's holiday campaign - but still offered little love for its potential honorees.

"You can name a day anything," Felder said. "Regardless of what day it is, you shouldn't be feeding pigeons in public."

Dove's pigeon promotion has caused some personal aggravation. She was recently feeding the pigeons near her apartment when a neighbor approached, asked her to stop "feeding the rats" - and then punched her in the arm.

Dove wasn't surprised. And she's certain of one thing: The pigeons are a lot cleaner than a lot of their critics.

"I see a little bit of pigeon poop," she says. "But I see a lot more pizza boxes out there."

New York Daily News
Letters to the Editor
March 28, 2008

Feather in her cap

Manhattan: Anna Dove's work to bring respect to pigeons ("She's for the birds," March 25) is an admirable civic enterprise. Pigeons are beautiful and relatively harmless members of the community of living creatures of our city. Simcha Felder, who would want to fine anyone who feeds pigeons, needs to cultivate more joy ("simcha" in Hebrew) in his dealings with our nonhuman fellows. All success to Ms. Dove!

Mark Stephen Caponigro

Flocking to their aid

Manhattan: Are we to consider pigeons service animals during war but a nuisance during peace? That same mind-set sent countless thousands of horses to slaughterhouses when they had outlived their usefulness. Our pigeon friends are due some compassion and gratitude.

Alice Liu

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Department of Conservation Replies to Pigeon Nettings

Department of Conservation responses to pigeon nettings:

(a) Please be advised that ECO Buckley will be contacting Inv. Lucas of the ASPCA to assist with this investigation.

(b) Hello,

I am the regional wildlife biologist for the Department (DEC).

William Dunn ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (212 876 7700 ext 4450) has asked for all witnesses to contact him and assist him in the legal case against these individuals. ASPCA has the lead because the humane aspects offer the most feasible venue for an enforcement case.

Thank you for being alert.

Joseph Pane

Related: Correspondence sent to list.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pigeon Shoots No Better than Cockfighting or Dogfighting

March 15
Pigeon shoots no better than cockfighting or dogfighting

It is a rare occurrence to open the paper and see a letter defending animal cruelty, yet a recent letter to the editor did just that and attempted to defend the indefensible game of launching live pigeons from box traps to be shot from 30 yards away.

Like dogfighting and cockfighting, pigeon shoots are largely underground practices that are not only associated with wanton animal cruelty, but also trafficking of animals and gambling. Prizes and money are awarded to shooters who shoot and drop the largest number of animals within a scoring ring.

Although the number of participants is dropping, several dozen shooters can still kill and wound at least 1,000 birds at each event. Birds are trafficked from states such as New York to meet the demand, despite efforts of law enforcement in New York to shut down the illegal netters.

Legislators have addressed dogfighting and cockfighting in Pennsylvania by making them felony crimes. It is time to also send this seedy practice to the history books.

For more information on live pigeon shoots visit

Heidi Prescott Senior vice president, campaigns The Humane Society of the United States Washington, D.C.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Family Files Suit Alleging Exposure to Pigeon Poison

December 03, 2003

Family files suit alleging exposure to pigeon poison
By Steve Kanigher

Shortly after moving into a Henderson apartment complex three years ago, Lisa Casey got light-headed whenever she stood up. Her headaches and dizziness led to vomiting. And it got just as bad for her youngest son, Shawn, who became so ill he missed 60 days of school and was held back a grade. Her other two sons also developed aches and pains.

Dr. Michael Casey, Lisa's husband and a surgical resident at University Medical Center, escaped illness. But his concern over his family's health led him to discover what he believed to be the culprit -- a controversial odorless bird poison that is legal in Nevada and throughout much of the country but banned in New York City and San Francisco, as well as in Great Britain.

In a lawsuit filed on Nov. 17, the Casey family alleged they were unwittingly exposed to Avitrol, which is commonly used in Nevada to ward off pigeons. The product is designed to scare off pigeons but kills many of them by attacking their nervous systems.

After first becoming ill in 2000, Lisa Casey had menstrual cycles every three weeks and, because of excessive hemorrhaging, underwent a complete hysterectomy in February 2001, the lawsuit stated. She also went from 130 pounds to 104 pounds in a single month.

Even now, she said she cannot pursue her hobby as an abstract acrylic painter because of low energy and depression.

"I still tire real easily," she said in her Las Vegas home. "I still have seizures and I get stressed out." Shawn Casey, who is now 12, was ill the entire winter of 2000-2001 and was found to have parasites in his gastrointestinal tract. The result was painful cramping. He missed so much school he was forced to repeat fourth grade.

He and his brothers, Benjamin, 16, and Scott, 14, still suffer aches and pains and are no longer able to participate in scouting activities, their parents said. "When Scott runs he starts to blank out and lose his vision," Michael Casey said.

While the chemical agent in Avitrol has been used experimentally to treat multiple sclerosis patients, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in 1999 that no human poisonings had occurred through "ordinary use" of the toxic substance.

Unique civil lawsuit

What makes the civil lawsuit unique is that the family is attempting to prove that the illnesses were caused by the "ordinary use" of Avitrol -- to ward off pigeons -- but that the bird poison was applied improperly and without their knowledge.

There had been only two reported cases of humans who became ill after accidental exposure to the chemical agent contained in Avitrol, the EPA stated in 1999 in its latest update on the substance.

Those involved two Virginia adults who ingested the poison in 1978, believing it was an aphrodisiac. Both experienced abdominal discomfort, nausea and dizziness and one had seizures and needed a ventilator. They recovered after three days, the EPA reported.

The Casey lawsuit names as defendants Phoenix Pest & Termite Control of Nevada Inc. and the family's former residence, Galleria Palms Apartments at 625 Whitney Ranch Drive in Henderson.

The family alleges that the apartment management initially lied about the use of bird poison on the property.

"I just felt we were treated like cattle," Lisa Casey said bluntly. Phone messages for officials of the pest control company weren't returned. Craig Walsh, senior vice president of operations for apartment manager Standard Management Co., one of the defendants in the lawsuit, said "it was an incident we were aware of" but he had no further comment.

Legal strategy

Attorney Ronald Serota of Las Vegas, who is representing the family, said he purposely did not sue Avitrol Corp., the Tulsa, Okla., manufacturer of the toxic substance, because of legal strategy. But he said he would not be surprised if the lawsuit forced Nevada to ban Avitrol.

"I'm hoping the lawsuit raises public awareness of the dangers of Avitrol," Serota said. "There is a need to use certified applicators of Avitrol on a more consistent basis. Property managers also should tell residents what they're doing when they use Avitrol."

But Avitrol Corp. president Kelly Swindle said he is confident the plaintiffs will be unable to prove that his product caused their illnesses.

"We've actually never had a case against the product," Swindle said. "I feel quite confident that Avitrol was not the problem here."

Avitrol was developed by Phillips Petroleum Co. in the early 1960s and soon became the most widely used pigeon poison in the country. A white powder with the scientific name of 4-aminopyridine, it is added to grain baits such as corn kernels. It is most commonly applied on rooftops after the area has been pre-baited with untainted grains.

The intent, according to the manufacturer, is for a few birds to exhibit abnormal reaction immediately after eating the tainted kernels, scaringoff other members of the flock. The birds who eat the toxic kernels are expected to die, although it can take several hours for that to happen.

Avitrol has been criticized by animal rights activists who claim that too many birds are killed by pest control companies that apply maximum doses and that the slow death by poisoning is inhumane.

The criticism extends to the fact that many of the affected birds go into convulsions and appear to hallucinate before they die and that the poison is indiscriminate because it can kill other birds and mammals.

And the critics argue that pigeons will often return to the same location within months.

"There are more humane ways to solve conflicts with pigeons," John Hadidian, urban wildlife program director for the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, said.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heinous Acts of Cruelty in Pennsylvania

March 12
Lawyer needs to gain compassion and common sense

In his Feb. 28 letter to the editor, Attorney Paul M. Perlstein states that anyone who devotes time to the welfare of pigeons is selfish and/or ignoring widespread human suffering and needs.

He is entitled to his opinion, and here is mine. If the ground opened up and swallowed 90 percent of the Earth’s attorneys, this world would be a better place (and Satan would have to build an addition).

Every so often, the news media report stories of extreme animal cruelty, and there is always someone like Mr. Perlstein who says that they should be focusing on child abuse instead. Common sense and compassion tell us that it is perfectly justified and logical to be concerned with preventing and prosecuting both types of abuse.

Attorney Perlstein states that neck-wringing and decapitation are legal and humane methods of euthanizing birds. Common sense and compassion tell us otherwise. Hanging is the equivalent of neck-wringing, yet society does not allow us to hang or decapitate our most heinous criminals, because these execution methods are considered brutal and inhumane. Why should pigeons be denied such mercy?

Mr. Perlstein assures us that a pigeon shooter “has looked into his heart and is pleased with what is there.” No doubt the Boston Strangler was quite content with his deeds and had no trouble sleeping either, but anyone with compassion and common sense would feel otherwise.

Marie Marinakis
Newtown Square

March 11, 2008
Times Leader
Pigeon shooting contests mindless, reflect poorly on state

I am compelled to disagree with Paul Perlstein’s letter of Feb. 28 denouncing the efforts of organizations trying to put a stop to pigeon shoots.

Speaking as an observer of one of these events, I am convinced that it is the contests themselves – not the organizations and individuals trying to put a stop to them – that are “wrong and reflect(s) poorly on Pennsylvania.”

These mindless contests have blackened the state’s reputation among virtually all the non-participants who are aware of them, whether they are among the 5 percent of the population that hunts or the 95 percent of the population that does not.

To see these birds shot as they are released from the confinement of the cages in which they have been transported, or blasted at short range if they choose to walk instead of fly, is not a pretty sight. To see an escaped pigeon return to assist a wounded mate is heart-rending. Pigeons are a sector of the dove family (Columbidae), which has had a pleasant association for humans through much of history. Phrases such as gentle as a dove, dove-eyed, dove-like, and lovey-dovey come to mind.

The dictionary gives “a gentle woman or child” as one definition for dove.

Pigeon, on the other hand, denotes a dupe or mark, “an object of attack or ridicule.” Pigeon-dropping is another term for confidence game. Then there are pigeon-breasted (usually from rickets), pigeon-toed and pigeon-hearted (cowardly). This seems unfair to these affectionate birds that mate for life, maintain peaceful relations among themselves and other species, and feed their young with a regurgitated liquid called pigeon milk.

Yet some of us humans, who are supposed to be the superior species, view the deaths of these gentle creatures as nothing more than points to be scored in a shooting contest.

Bina Robinson Swain, N.Y.

Dear Times Leader:

Paul Perlstein attempts to defend the indefensible--pigeon shoots--in his 2/28/08 letter.

Mr. Perlstein, a personal injury lawyer, who prides himself on appearing as special counsel for gun nuts and hunting clubs, berates those who undertake to use the courts to end, not perpetuate, cruelty.

He drags out the tired gimmick of the ethically dishonest, by asking those dedicated to ending cruelty against a group that he does not care about, why they are not helping humans.

I have been a social worker for homeless families for over 23 years. As inevitable as taxes and death, are animal abusers who do nothing for humans, but rail against those whose advocacy helps animals and humans. Stretching credulity past its limit, animal killers also claim that it is they, not animal advocates, who do the most for animals and the environment.

Perlstein states that the American Veterinary Society (I assume he means the AVMA) “has sanctioned decapitation and neck wringing as appropriate means to dispatch wounded birds.” Perlstein neglects to mention that the birds are “wounded” because of hunters. In addition, The AVMA notoriously supports numerous industrial and recreational abuses of animals—abuses that are opposed by all humane organizations and by many veterinarians.

I witnessed the Hegins Pigeon Slaughter, year after year. I volunteered, either at the veterinary tent, or to run and catch the injured, but still alive, birds and bring them to our tent for treatment. We literally had to run to save their lives, while the hunters booed and screamed insults at us, and tried to beat us to the suffering birds, so that they could kill them in front of us. The wicked smirks on their faces, when they got to their victims first, demonstrated human evil in a most intense, profound, and frightening way. Wounded birds not making it off the field, had their heads ripped off, or necks twisted, by emotionally-disengaged, young girls and boys, recruited for the purpose.

To save what victims we could, we forced ourselves to watch, as the thirsty, hungry, dazed pigeons, released from dark boxes into the sunlight, flew or just staggered away, to be shot by drunken shooters (alcohol having been served at this “family” event). One of the cheering mutants told me that pigeons need to be killed, “because they cause the AID [sic].”

The wives/girlfriends/daughters of the killers frequently came up to several of us, at our veterinary tent, in the parking lot, to tell us that they were revolted by the cruelty and carnage being celebrated in their town. The kids begged us to save the pigeons, and the fearful women told us that if their men saw them talking to us, the men would beat them.

After the 1999 unanimous PA Supreme Court decision granting the PA SPCA jurisdiction to enforce Pennsylvania's cruelty to animals law at the Hegins pigeon shoot, the organizers of the slaughter ended the spectacle, knowing that they could now be prosecuted for animal cruelty.

Please contact your legislators, urging them to support Representative Frank Andrews Shimkus’ H.B. 73, which will ban live pigeon shoots in PA.

Susan Gordon, Board Member
New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance

Dear Times Leader:

Paul Perlstein had the audacity to say:

"I do not understand how anyone can be so selfish as to ignore the widespread human suffering and needs in this state and the world and devote so much time and energy to a pigeon."

Over the years, this man has made millions defending the "rights" of sadistic, brutal, uncivilized ignorant people that use a Constitutional Right as an excuse and camouflage to act-out their barbarities, involving their own children in the process.

If Paul Perlstein is really in touch with widespread human suffering, he should provide his services FREE OF CHARGE, to the victims of random shootings, as well as their families. Gun related crimes (whether killings of human or animals) are on the rise. In fact many young people are desensitized to the consequences of shooting a gun.

The same Constitutional Right that allows hunters to massacre animals, allows other types of criminals to commit crimes with easily obtainable guns.


Please address letters to Times Leader to: