Saturday, July 7, 2007
Who's Stealing New York's Pigeons?
Something strange is happening in Greenwich Village. The skies are unusually empty. The park benches in Washington Square Park are splatter-free. And should you happen to drop your giant pretzel, there might not be a pigeon around to snap it up.
According to the New Yorker, my neighborhood in downtown Manhattan has recently been the site of numerous bird-nappings. Neighbors claim to have seen a sinister SUV with tinted windows cruising the narrow streets. Suddenly, the car stops and a man in a hat jumps from the driver’s seat, with a big, black net in hand. He tosses a handful of birdseed onto the sidewalk, waits for the pigeons to gather, and scoops them up in the net. Some witnesses report being warned to keep their distance.
Even residents who hold no love for New York’s “flying rats” are starting to worry. There are countless theories about the abductions, and none of them end happily for the animals. Many people suspect the birds wind up fried, roasted, or fricasseed. But according to a secretive group called Bird Operations Busted, the pigeons are probably being transported across state lines and sold to gun clubs for bird shoots. (Don't they have their own darn birds?)
As you might imagine, this practice is illegal. Pigeons are considered the property of New York City—and no one is allowed to hurt (or nibble on) them. But groups like B.O.B. have been fighting the bird-nappers for years with little success. So I call on all New Yorkers (and visitors) to keep a camera at the ready. If you see someone scooping up pigeons, take a photo of the person, his car, and the license plate—then contact the ASPCA.
Pigeons may be flying rats, but they’re OUR flying rats.