Monday, September 15, 2008

NY Senator Krueger Urges PA Legislature to Ban Pigeon Shoots

Source: The Humane Society of the United States

New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-26) sent a letter (follows below) to the Pennsylvania State Legislature advocating a ban on live pigeon shoots, highlighting the burden that demand for New York City pigeons as live targets places on New York law enforcement agencies.

A Pennsylvania bill to ban live pigeon shoots is pending in the state legislature and is expected to be voted on this week. More info on the bill and issue is available at The Humane Society of the United States' website.


New York Senator Urges Pennsylvania Legislature to Gun Down Pigeon Shoots

(Sept. 15, 2008)- New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-26) sent a letter to the Pennsylvania State Legislature advocating a ban on live pigeon shoots, highlighting the burden that demand for New York City pigeons as live targets places on New York law enforcement agencies.

"I urge the Pennsylvania State Legislature to ban the cruel practice of live pigeon shoots," said Sen. Krueger. "If the demand for live birds to kill during Pennsylvania pigeon shoots were ended through legislation, these pigeon nettings would undoubtedly dramatically decline and most likely cease."

Recent media reports have highlighted the link between illegal pigeon capture in New York City and the trafficking of birds across state lines to be used in pigeon shoots. Pennsylvania is the last state to openly host these events. Sen. Krueger noted that New York banned captive live pigeon shoots in 1874.

City residents have witnessed individuals scattering seed or bait for birds, throwing a net over the animals and placing them in the back of vehicles. Birds reportedly arrive to the shoots already malnourished, dehydrated or dead.

"For the past 20 years, tens of thousands of birds have suffered while Pennsylvania citizens called for legislation banning pigeon shoots," said Heidi Prescott, senior vice president for The Humane Society of the United States. "Now the Pennsylvania Legislature's embarrassing failure to act on this reasonable measure has caught the attention of a legislator in another state."

The HSUS offers a standing $2,500 reward for information related to nettings, gambling and other illegal activity connected to live pigeon shoots. Individuals with information may call the toll-free live pigeon shoot tip line at 1-800-637-4124.


* The Pennsylvania Legislature has failed to pass any animal protection legislation this session.

* In pigeon shoots, birds are released one at time from boxes to be shot by individuals standing just a few yards away. The shooters are awarded prizes based on whether the wounded or dead animal lands inside a scoring area.

* During past live pigeon shoots, participants have snipped the heads off live birds with gardening shears, beaten wounded pigeons against barrels, buried wounded animals with dead ones in containers and abandoned wounded animals.

* At least 1,000 birds are typically used for a one-day shoot.

The HSUS works to stop wildlife abuse across the country. Visit for more information.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the web at

The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty

NY Senator Krueger's Letter to Pennsylvania Legislature

Dear Legislator,

On behalf of my constituents in the 26th Senate Legislative District of New York, I encourage you to support legislation to end pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania. It is my understanding that Pennsylvania openly hosts these events where captive birds are released or launched from boxes and shot within a ring for prizes and money. Unfortunately, it is not only Pennsylvania that is affected, the constant demand for animals to supply these events has spurred an associated animal cruelty issue in New York State in the form of pigeon poaching.

These poaching activities present an undue law enforcement challenge within my district, the Upper East Side of New York City, and other areas within the city. Capturing or netting pigeons is illegal, yet within my district residents repeatedly witness individuals scattering seed or bait for birds, throwing a net over the animals and placing these birds in the back of vehicle. The birds are then kept in crowded conditions and transported across state lines to shoots in Pennsylvania.

If the Pennsylvania pigeon shoot market for live birds to target in these competitions were ended through legislation, these pigeon nettings would undoubtedly dramatically decline and most likely, cease. I know of no other economic incentive for individuals to capture thousands of pigeons at a time, repeatedly throughout the year in New York. In fact, New York bannned captive live pigeon shoots in 1874.

As you might imagine, our city's law enforcement bodies would rather spend their time and resources on priorities that do not include investigating frequent reports of pigeon capture.

Finally, the cruelty inherent in shooting launched animals that do not have an opportunity to escape the gun and knowing that it is our own state's wildlife killed in such a manner, is quite distressing to my constituents who value the humane treatment of animals. Again, I urge you to pass legislation before the fall shoot season starts again and increases the demand for our birds.

I thank you for your time.


Liz Krueger
State Senator

Related press: The Daily Gotham

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Safe Feeding Zones" for Pigeons

According to a recent article in the Columbia Spectator, the Humane Society of the US is negotiating with New York City lawyers to put into place pigeon "safe feeding zones" or restricted feeding areas. Can this be nothing more than pigeon discrimination, or will safe feeding zones for other wildlife follow in the future. I hope this plan is not an attempt to reduce the numbers of pigeons in Manhattan as pigeon populations have been declining steadily over the past several years and there is no need for pigeon control.

"As for those who enjoy playing with the pigeons, I think it is my duty to suggest that we follow the Humane Society’s plan for the city, called “safe feeding zones.” In negotiations with Councilman Simcha Felder (44th District, Brooklyn), the HS is working with city lawyers to draw up a plan that will allow the feeding of pigeons in parks, on the grass, away from the heavily trafficked areas.

We can do the same thing at Columbia. We can feed the pigeons only on the grassy areas and abstain from inviting them to dine on the steps or any concrete places where people may sit. At least on the grass, their poop can actually function as fertilizer, and those of us who relax on the grass generally do so in our casual clothes, not our Sunday finest.

The Humane Society also advises that we feed only as much as the birds will consume in five to ten minutes, rather than feed with the clockwork regularity that conditions the birds to appear at the same place, same time, every day—and attract more and more of their compatriots over time."

Here are some examples of how other areas have dealt with pigeons in their cities. (Source: PETA)

✔Basel, Switzerland: From 1988 to 1992, Basel halved its street pigeon population through an integrated management program. The city had previously tried trapping, shooting, and oral contraceptives, all of which failed to effectively reduce pigeon numbers. Identifying the limitation of food sources as the only solution, the world’s leading scientist in the field, Professor Daniel Haag Wackernagel of the University of Basel, recommended that the city mount a public education campaign emphasizing that public feeding was the root of the problem and explaining the ultimate harm to the pigeons. Basel built lofts in city buildings and established areas where feeding was permitted near the lofts. Eggs were removed from the lofts, and during the four-year period of Haag-Wackernagel’s oversight, the pigeon population was reduced by 50 percent.

✔Augsburg, Germany: Augsburg currently has seven pigeon lofts in the city and is close to completing an eighth. The number of lofts is expected to grow to 15 by the end of 2006. In 2002 alone, 12,000 eggs were removed from the new lofts. Augsburg has seen a marked reduction in damage to buildings because the pigeon droppings are collected largely in the lofts.

✔Aachen, Germany: After acknowledging that trapping and killing pigeons was not making “any noticeable change” to the pigeon numbers, Aachen has now installed seven pigeon lofts that are maintained by volunteer staff and activists. A spokesperson for the city said that the city wants to continue with the integrated program because the lofts are producing the desired results.

✔Paris, France: The city had tried conventional control methods but did not obtain satisfactory results, so in 2003, Paris put up its first pigeon loft. Paris has chosen to addle (shake) the eggs to prevent them from hatching. The program has the support of the French Society for the Protection of City Birds. A spokesperson for the city said that the new plan works to “improve relations between Parisians and these birds” and reduces the damage caused by droppings.

✔Nottingham City Hospital, U.K.: A good example of the effectiveness of the PiCAS method in a commercial setting, the 60-acre hospital started killing some of its 1,200-strong resident pigeon population in 1999 but stopped immediately because of a public outcry. The hospital then brought in PiCAS to devise a humane control program and reduced its pigeon population by 50 percent within a year. The population in 200 was further reduced to 360 birds, and a recent survey has counted only 62 resident birds on site. This massive reduction was achieved exclusively by using nonlethal methods of control. The hospital won the 2003Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (UK) Best Practice Award for its humane and effective program in association with PiCAS.

The PiCAS Method in Action: Proven and Ongoing Successes

Some examples of places where this method has worked and is working to reduce and manage pigeon populations in Europe include the following:

As an example of construction and maintenance costs, the German city of Augsburg found it more expensive, according to the city’s finance officer, to employ lethal controls and constantly clean buildings than to introduce an integrated program. Currently, the city spends about $2,000 on construction materials for each dovecote or $15,000 if it contracts to have the dovecote constructed. The dovecotes are cleaned and maintained two to three times a week, which takes approximately three hours for each visit. Augsburg also uses community volunteers to keep costs low, and PETA can work with communities to locate and organize volunteers to aid in
running the PiCAS program.

If the more intricate and picturesque dovecotes such as those found in Augsburg are not desired, simpler features such as wall-mounted nesting boxes that can cost as little as $40 to $60 each or pigeon “lofts” that cost $400 to $600 can be constructed. All these options are effective and can simply be tailored to suit the available budget and the aesthetics of the designated site. As long as the facility has been constructed with the needs and behaviors of the pigeons in mind and has been erected on an appropriate site, pigeons will begin to take up residence and can be managed from the site. Perhaps the biggest benefit for cities in adopting a PiCAS
program is the savings that PiCAS can arrange for commercial property owners in the city. As noted above, one of the key features of the PiCAS method is working with property owners to ensure that their buildings are adequately and properly pigeon-proofed in order to make that area as unattractive to pigeons as possible. Pigeon-proofing can be achieved through a range of deterrents such as anti-roosting spikes, and PiCAS has extensive experience working with property owners to determine how best to address their individual concerns. PiCAS can offer the client sources for a wide range of control options and deterrents that will not only be completely effective in the long term but also can be obtained at a fraction of the cost that a commercial PCO would charge. For example, PiCAS has a noncommercial relationship with a U.K. producer of antiroosting devices that, having established a presence in Florida, can supply top-quality stainless-steel anti-roosting spikes to U.S. clients for less than even the wholesale price. U.S. clients who confirm that they will solely use nonlethal controls to address pigeon issues can enjoy a further 15 percent discount on these products, making the humane pigeon control option even more cost-effective.

It is also worthwhile to consider the possibility of offering a franchise to sell high-quality pigeon feed adjacent to the designated feeding area. This would ensure that the right food was offered to pigeons (rather than large quantities of processed food that not only would be damaging to their health, but might also attract rodents and seagulls), and it would create revenue for the city to offset the costs involved in cleaning and servicing the site.

Contact Information
Pigeon Control Advisory Service
29 Victoria Green
Cambridgeshire CB6 2XB
United Kingdom
07981 945 662

Stephanie Boyles, Wildlife Biologist
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
501 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-622-7382, ext. 8328

Sources Cited
Batz, Jeannette. “Pigeons Dropping.” St. Louis Riverfront Times 13 Jan. 1999
Broughton, P.D. “Parisians Build Home for Pigeons in Suburbs.” London Daily
Telegraph 8 Mar. 2003.

Der Spiegel. “War Against the Messengers of Peace.” 6 Jun. 2003.
Haag-Wackernagel, Daniel. “Regulation of the Street Pigeon in Basel.” Wildlife
Society Bulletin 23.2 (2002): 256-60.

Kanigher, Steve. “Family Files Suit Alleging Exposure to Pigeon Poison.” Las Vegas
Sun 3 Dec. 2003 2003/dec/03/515959641.html>.

Nottingham City Hospital. “Pigeon Control Update.” Dec. 2000

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Extinction (the sad fate of the Passenger Pigeon)

Monday, September 01, 2008
The Patriot News

By the time they enter high school, most children have learned about the great bison herds of North America, and how men with guns brought these animals to the brink of extinction.

As students gain understanding of America's past, they are exposed to a second, even more troubling massacre. The passenger pigeon was once the most common bird on the continent, maybe in the world -- migrating in flocks that took days to pass overhead. Thanks to the unwavering zeal of shooters, the last known passenger pigeon, "Martha," died in Ohio on Sept. 1, 1914.

This condensed version of history, however, pulls up short after that, right where it counts.

Those responsible for the buffalo and passenger-pigeon massacres are portrayed as people who just didn't understand the power that humans could wield over nature. The tragic stories of these animals are chalked up as examples of ecological ignorance and unknowing people getting carried away with themselves. By this reckoning, we've learned the lessons of history. We're much more in tune with nature now.

But sadly there is more to it. These stories from our past are windows into something else, something darker in the human character. I'm speaking about bloodthirsty wantonness: The inexplicable lust to kill and kill and kill.

Unfortunately, the passage of time has not blunted this impulse in some of us.

Right here in 21st century Pennsylvania, gunfire rings out during the weekends from people engaged in orgies of killing that are even more gratuitous than the assaults on bison and passenger pigeon. That's right, not on the same epic scale but morally more repugnant. Back then, buffalo hides had economic value, at least. And passenger pigeons provided food, first to slaves and then to the underclass.

By contrast, today's pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania are without any purpose whatsoever. Nothing except competition killing for the sake of macabre trophy belt buckles.

These semi-tame pigeons are captured elsewhere, including the streets of New York. On any given Wednesday, they might be nibbling cracker crumbs out of grandma's hand in Central Park. Then they are trapped by a shadowy network of dealers and transported here. By Sunday, they could be stuffed into a box in front of shooter to be launched as living targets.

The "lucky" among these birds die swiftly. Their heads are snipped off by eager apprentices. The carcasses are discarded with the other garbage.

The less fortunate birds are wounded. They disappear into the trees and brush to suffer and die days later.

Don't be fooled by extremists who defend their blood-thirst as part of Pennsylvania's heritage. What grim heritage would that be? And if a zealot dares speak of "hunting" in the same breath as these shoots -- and sure enough, radicals like those of the National Rifle Association do -- please remind them that no traditional hunter kills for the sake of feeding garbage cans. No self-respecting hunter wounds animals and leaves them to die in the woods.

At The Humane Society of the United States we have a saying: Shooting pigeons and calling yourself a sportsman is like hiring an escort service and calling yourself a ladies' man.

THE GOOD NEWS is that we can end these savage displays of inhumanity. Ten years ago marked the end of the notorious Hegins pigeon shoot. Now a decade later, the Pennsylvania Legislature is considering catching up with the other 49 states in disallowing pigeon shoots. Let the shooters go play video games if they cannot find something constructive to do. The whole spectacle of pigeon shoots is just a ghoulish game anyway.

The trouble is, these few shooters and their extremist allies are a noisy bunch. To counter them, legislators need to hear that sensible voters are fed up. It is time for logic and decency to carry the day in the Capitol.

It requires not an iota of courage to shoot at a pigeon netted from the city park. It shouldn't require very much more for a legislator to decree that it's wrong to do so. A sensible law will send these contest kills into history's shameful dustbin along with stories of other human carnage against animals.

HEIDI PRESCOTT is senior vice president/campaigns for The Humane Society of the United States.