Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pigeon Vendor Linked to Bird Shootouts

Source: UPI.Com

Top News

NEW YORK, July 27 (UPI) -- Humane Society officials have accused a New York vendor of selling pigeons that end up at Pennsylvania gun clubs, where they are killed in shooting contests.

The Humane Society of the United States claims Broadway Pigeons and Pet Supplies sells pigeons to dealers who pass them off for a higher price to gun clubs in Pennsylvania, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Pigeon dealer Don Bailey one of those alleged to have bought birds from Broadway Pigeons, lawyers say

Bailey organizes what may be the biggest pigeon shootout in the country, which starts Thursday and goes until Monday at the Strausstown Rod and Gun Club in Pennsylvania, the Post said.

Officials have not said whether Bailey recently purchased birds from Broadway Pigeons.

The newspaper said thousands of pigeons can be killed during a five-day shooting tournament.

The attorney for Broadway Pigeons owner Joseph Scott said his client doesn't know where birds go after they leave his store.

New York City Birds Sold to Slaughter

New York Post

Posted: 4:06 am
July 27, 2008

A Brooklyn pigeon purveyor acted as a conduit for delivering Big Apple birds to their doom as live targets in shooting contests, according to an animal-rights group.

The Humane Society of the United States has fingered Broadway Pigeons and Pet Supplies in Bushwick as having sold squabs to brokers who resell the birds to Pennsylvania gun clubs.

The organizations include the Strausstown Rod and Gun Club, which is set to host one of the country's largest and bloodiest shoots in just four days.

"The Humane Society of the United States believes that some of the pigeons who end up as living targets in the circuit of live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania come from the brokers at Broadway Pigeons in New York City," Heidi Prescott, a senior vice president at the animal-rights group, told The Post.

According to a lawyer for Broadway Pigeons, a pigeon broker named Don Bailey has purchased birds from the store in the past. Bailey is in charge of the invitation-only tournament at Strausstown this week, according to the Pennsylvania Flyers Association, a group that has fought to keep pigeon shoots legal in the state.

Bailey declined to comment for this story. It is unclear where the pigeons for this week's tournament were procured.

While pigeon shoots are illegal in New York and animal-rights groups have decried the sport, the century-old contests are legal and popular in rural corners of Pennsylvania.

Known as "the Large Calcutta," the Strausstown competition begins this Thursday and runs through Aug. 4. It offers cash prizes to competitors and allows onlookers to bet on who can shotgun the most birds.

Each competitor fires on 10 pigeons, which are loaded into spring traps and released in turn each time the shooter yells, "Pull!"

The winner is the shooter who kills the most birds within a 35-foot-radius shooting circle.

Tournaments can attract up to 100 competitors a day and go for several rounds.

Over a five-day tournament, the carnage can be in the thousands of birds.

Prescott said the birds are illegally netted by poachers from New York City parks and sidewalks and sold to a retailer or go-between for $2 a bird. That retailer generally wholesales the pigeons for up to $4.50 each to a broker, who then resells the birds for $9 each to a gun range.

In New York, to legally trap pigeons, a netting permit and a small-game license are required.

The attorney for Joseph Scott, the owner of Broadway Pigeons, acknowledged that the store buys pigeons without asking whether they were illegally poached.

"He's got no idea of whether any of the pigeons he's purchased were netted," said Scott's lawyer, Joseph Mure.

Mure added that Scott had no knowledge of his store's pigeons' being used in shoots.

"When someone comes in and buys pigeons, my client doesn't know where they go," Mure said.

He acknowledged, however, that Bailey, the pigeon broker, had been a customer.

"Don Bailey at one point bought some birds," Mure, said. "He hasn't bought any birds in a while . . . I think he goes to the auctions in Pennsylvania."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pigeon King Collecting Birds from New York?

Note in bold in the following article -- Pigeon King has been collecting 10,000 pigeons a month taken from New York, Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio. Collecting how? Aside from the squab and investment businesses, are they also in the bird netting business?

Pigeon Investors Discuss Options in Dealing With Birds
Submitted by Editor on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 12:37pm.

Linda Williams
Southwestern Pa. Correspondent

MARTINSBURG, Pa. — An optimistic group of pigeon owners gathered in Martinsburg at the Community Meeting Room last Friday.

Leading the 50-60 in attendance was pigeon investor Robert Detwiler.

Participants came from various parts of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The discussion centered on what to do with the pigeons in which they had invested thousands of dollars with Arlan Galbraith of Pigeon King International, a Canadian-based company. All of the investors, many of them Plain Sect, had done so in good faith of having a market.

However, Pigeon King, or PKI, which claimed to be in the squab market, has gone bankrupt leaving the pigeon farmers without a market. Squab is an exclusive dish served in elite restaurants and, according to one participant at the meeting, can sell for $165 per plate. Squab is made from pigeons which are 30 to 40 days old. Pigeon owners are now left with thousands of birds which are growing older by the day and must be fed.

Detwiler opened the meeting by explaining that, like others present, he had invested in the pigeons and had reaped the benefits for a time. He asked for ideas on how to deal with the situation. One person was appointed to write down each suggestion that would be sent to the various people in attendance and others who might inquire later.

Detwiler noted that one person let 2,000 pigeons out of their cages hoping they might fly away and he would no longer have to feed them. However, they returned to roost on his barn roof.

Detwiler also noted that he himself had sold about 10 of his birds to a dog trainer.

“We need to learn how to market what we have,” he said.

One person suggested using the birds for animal feed. Someone had heard of a man from the Scranton area who might have a lead on this.

A latecomer to the meeting said he and his wife had been on the Internet and found a processing plant in the Philadelphia area, but the Website did not have contact information.

While most of the pigeons purchased from Galbraith seemed to be high fliers or homing pigeons, Silver King pigeons seem to have more of a market.

A representative from the Imler Poultry Company said he is willing to work on finding a processing plant and a market for the pigeons although he could make no guarantees. He added that if he did find a market, the individual farmers would be responsible for getting the birds to market.

“You find a market and we will get them there,” was the response.

Another suggestion was for the farmers to eat their own birds. Detwiler noted he had found an old cookbook recently which had pigeon recipes and perhaps this was an option for at least some of the birds.

A former manager from Pigeon King said they had been collecting about 10,000 birds a month from New York, Pennsylvania, and western Ohio prior to the collapse of PKI.

One couple had discovered a Website indicating the pigeon manure makes good fertilizer and thought this might be a possibility.

Another said he had found a processing plant in New Castle that would use the older pigeons for snake feed.

“I’ve got a buyer coming tonight who will give me 50 cents per bird to be used for dog training,” came a voice from across the room. “Should I take it?”
“No, was a quick response, send your buyer to me.” This comment brought a round of laughter.

International markets were discussed briefly but it was indicated that there are a lot of rules and regulations with regards to shipping out of the country.

A former pickup man for Pigeon King said he had met many wonderful people with his former job. “I saw them starting to earn a profit,” he said. “When I would go back month after month, I began to see a lot of good changes.

People were fixing up their places. I know it was a good thing. I would like to be a pickup man again.”

The general consensus of the group was that Arlan Galbraith never meant to harm anyone and this was not a scam. It was only an unfortunate incident.

Meanwhile, regardless, the birds have to be fed. Several indicated they could no longer afford to purchase feed with 200 pounds of wheat costing $42.50.

Detwiler indicated he had some folks growing wheat on his land and has been able to keep his birds going with this. Others found cracked corn to be the least expensive route to go.

Anyone who felt the operation was a scam was invited to write a letter to the Waterloo Regional Police Service. If they get enough complaints they will file an investigation. To date, they have received only about 13 letters. The address is P.O. Box 3070, 200 Maple Grove Rd., Cambridge, Ontario N3H5MI.
Detwiler has also made an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer and will get back to the group with information gleaned from this.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Poor Pigeons All Around!

Poor pigeons....shot when they allegedly got in the way; and in a separate incident, used by man for illegal prison activities... two incidents that occured within a few days of one another. One cannot help but feel sympathy for the poor species which man cannot leave alone to exist in peace.

News from

Pigeons Make Headlines at Wimbledon, Brazilian Prison
Birds shot, used for smuggling in separate incidents
By Katie Ingmire
Posted: July 11, 2008, 5 a.m. EDT

Pigeons might be ubiquitous in urban areas, but they remain largely absent from mentions in news stories. Recent events at the Wimbledon tennis tournament and a Brazilian prison, however, prove pigeons can make the headlines.

Wimbledon pigeon shooting draws ire from animal activists
Animal rights activists were up in arms last month after marksmen shot pigeons that were distracting players on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

According to an article published June 24, 2008 by Reuters news service, the All England Club hired two hawks to frighten away dive-bombing pigeons during the tennis tournament. Wimbledon called in marksmen after the hawks couldn’t deter the pigeons from the open-air media restaurant and players’ lawn.

Nick Kester, press secretary for the Hawk Board, a body representing all falconers in the United Kingdom, said the hawks might not have been able to scare the pigeons away because pigeons get used to bird-scaring devices, such as falcons and regular explosions.

“As the hawk cannot be flown whilst the tennis match is in progress, then there is no deterrent,” Kester said. “Thus, the more persistent pigeons will return.”

The reaction from Wimbledon came after bird droppings on restaurant tables were thought to pose a health risk, the article said.

Anna Dove, who writes the blog “People for Pigeons,” said she has received many comments pertaining to the Wimbledon incident. She said not one comment supported shooting the pigeons.

“When is any sport more important than a bird?” Dove questioned. “The birds aren’t dangerous … (Wimbledon) should have allowed the birds to stay there.”

Prison Pigeons Found Smuggling Drugs, Phones
A recent incident at a Brazilian prison gives new meaning to the term “pack rat.”

Pigeons, which often receive the unfortunate label of “rats with wings,” were found smuggling drugs and cell phones into the prison in Marilia, Sao Paulo state, according to a June 25 article published by Reuters news service.

Officials uncovered the reason behind the prison’s steep increase in the two contraband items when guards noticed some pigeons struggling to stay in the air. Inmates had been training the pigeons to bring in drugs and phones using pouches on the birds’ backs, the article said.

Prison officials said the pigeons lived on the jail’s roof, also the location where the pigeons delivered the goods. According to the article, the prisoners would take the items delivered onto the roof, then use friends and family to smuggle the pigeons out again.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pigeon Netter Netted

by Erik Baard
(see original article here)

One of the stupider “sports” people have come up with is pigeon shooting, where the birds are released from boxes into the line of yahoos’ ready fire. In a 1902 debate over a bill banning the sport from New York, a state senator compared that lack of humanity and sportsman-like behavior to shutting a doe up in a barn and then blasting her as she ran out the open door.

As nearby as Pennsylvania the practice persists, and New York City birds are being stolen to supply the madness. Fortunately, In Defense of Animals is part of the vanguard to stop it. This week the group conferred its first $2,500 award for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person netting pigeons, also known as rock doves, in NYC. The recipient was Desi Stewart, a street sweeper with the Doe Fund. He spotted Brooklyn resident Isaac Gonzalez spreading seed and netting many pigeons on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officer arrested Gonzalez, who pleaded guilty in Manhattan Criminal Court on June 26, 2008.

It’s a shame Gonzalez didn’t go to prison, if only because we’ll miss the small ironic pleasure of letting him know of his idiocy in trapping for deathly amusement birds whose intelligence might have made them useful allies in alleviating the sufferings of confinement. Kindred criminal spirits in Brazil, at least, were smart enough to attempt to employ the birds as jailhouse smugglers, complete with little pigeon backpacks!

Pigeons have a growing fan base outside “the clink” (is my mother the only person who still uses that expression?) too. National Pigeon Day was Friday the 13th in June, appropriately enough for such a besotted bird. In Defense of Animals, the United Federation of Teachers Humane Education Committee, the New York Bird Club, and luminaries ate pigeon-shaped cookies…and perhaps scandalously snuck a few crumbs to their avian honorees. The contributions of this species, including astonishing heroics in war, rescue, and acts of touching personal loyalty were recounted.

City Councilman Tony Avella, who’s taken the lead on a number of animal rights issues, shared a moving observation. “They are often a city child’s first contact with nature and an elderly person’s only friends,” he said.

One might wonder why there isn’t a greater effort to control pigeon populations, for fear that they might crowd out other, indigenous species. To understand how little worry ecologists have in this regard, here’s a simple exercise: plant your own lush garden or grove of indigenous plants and trees and wait for the pigeons to show up. Or simply visualize the trees on your block being filled with pigeons. It simply won’t happen. The “rock dove” species feeds on the ground and prefers barren areas much like its ancestral cliff sides in Asia Minor. In other words, buildings and asphalt. Not that city life is kind to pigeons. In the wild they live about 14 years, but typically reach only two in urban areas. They do, however, breed a lot more.

If you’d like to get involved in the responsible care and control of pigeons in the city, try volunteering for Pigeon Watch. And remember, if you witness a pigeon netting in the five boroughs of New York City, call New York State DEC Officer Joseph Pane at 718-482-4941. If you need help in rescuing a pigeon of any age or condition, please visit New York City Pigeon Rescue Central. For the simple enjoyment of learning more about this species, one great place to start is Andrew Blechman’s book, Pigeons, which he calls “the world’s most revered and reviled bird.”

All this brings to mind that we’re at a sad centennial: it was in 1908 that zookeepers posted a $1000 reward (more than $23,000 in today’s dollars) for fertile, wild passenger pigeons. That awakening to the crisis was too late and the reward was never collected. Over-hunting and habitat destruction wiped out that species, which once filled North American skies in flocks of billions. Martha, the last of her kind, died in captivity in 1914. I’ll write more about this missing species of pigeons in coming weeks.