Monday, December 03, 2007

New Yorkers Defend Pigeons at City Hall

Pigeons do not contribute to Green Cities. They should be diapered or exported to the moon. This Columbia University article highlights the challenge that urban diversity poses in determining what is "good public policy". I declare that the winners "win" more than the losers lose from cracking down on the pigeons.

New Yorkers Defend Pigeons at City Hall
By Betsy Morais

Created 12/03/2007 - 1:53am
Concerned citizens decried Councilman Simcha Felder’s proposed pigeon legislation on the steps of City Hall Friday afternoon.

Felder, D-Brooklyn, has called for a $1,000 fine for feeding the birds and set forth additional recommendations—such as support for the creation of a city “Pigeon Czar.” But critics are determined stop Felder’s legislation from passing.

“Felder’s pigeon bill is poop!” one protester’s sign read. About 40 people from organizations such as People for Pigeons, the Greenwich Village Pigeon Club, and the New York City Wildlife Alliance rallied together in an hour-long demonstration to lambast Felder’s legislation and express their pigeon appreciation.

According to the New York Bird Club, “The proposed plan is senseless and cruel, and the people respectfully ask that it not be permitted to pass into our law.”

Demonstrators denied a pigeon problem in the city, saying that the birds pose no credible health hazards, and scolded Felder’s misunderstanding of the species.

“Felder’s report is filled with mistakes and inaccurate information,” Wildlife Alliance’s Cathryn Swan said, with her organization’s 14-page rebuttal to the bill in hand. “He seems to be basing his proposal on the fears of his six-year-old daughter,” who the Councilman has said is peeved by pigeons.

Although Felder has suggested that pigeons can move to New Jersey if they don’t like his law, Johanna Clearfield of the Urban Wildlife Coalition explained that because pigeons are homing birds, it is against their nature to leave the immediate area in which they were born.

Friday’s protesters pointed out that pigeons are war heroes who should be revered as such. During World War I, they said, the birds crossed enemy lines to do their part in combating the Central Powers. One pigeon named Cher Ami was even credited for saving “The Lost Battalion” and honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Today, pigeons are subjected to illegal trafficking across state lines. “New Yorkers would be shocked to know that pigeons are netted by the thousands,” Casey Pheiffer of the Humane Society explained. The birds are captured in the city and smuggled to Pennsylvania, where they are shot for money and prizes.

Frequent pigeon feeder Irene Cook is not part of any pro-pigeon organizations, but joined the protest to oppose Felder’s legislation, which she finds discriminatory. “I don’t want my daughter to think it’s okay to kill a living thing just because it poops in places that are inconvenient. I’m sure if God gave them toilets, they’d use them,” she said.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals released a statement in support of Felder’s proposed bill. “New York has become the home to an astronomical number of these creatures,” the press release said. The ASPCA added that Felder’s plan would promote a healthy city environment, and the organization hopes to work with the councilman to ensure maintenance of pigeon dignity.

Betsy Morais can be reached at


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