Monday, November 12, 2007

Is a Park Slope Pigeon Serial Killer on the Loose?

Pigeon Sign

It's hard to say whether the allegations of pigeons being slaughtered in Park Slope are a case of animal cruelty or lunacy or a little bit of both, but the photos show signs that popped up along Eighth Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets over the weekend. There are more than a half-dozen of them. The signs allude to a situation in which someone is said to be running down pigeon en masse in the Slope and/or poisoning them. As for the, um, curious part, it suggests that "surveillance cameras" are being installed to catch the pigeon killers and that "community police" are making checks to nab the avian homicidal maniacs(s). This all has its roots in what may be a neighborhood feud of epic (and, now, deadly) proportions between a resident who feeds pigeons and a neighbor that doesn't like them so much. The bird lover was dubbed the "Pigeon Advocate" by neighborhood blogger OTBKB. The pigeon person feeds the birds and has had many run ins with a neighbor who she calls "a maniac" and with what she calls "goons" who work at neighboring Methodist Hospital who apparently don't like birdseed or pigeons either. The Pigeon Advocate claims that "there have been 10 to 20 run-over pigeons found in piles" over the last week at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street.

Here's where it gets very interesting: This is not the first time that pigeon murders have been alleged in this block of Park Slope. Back in 1998, pigeons living on Eighth Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Streets were shot with darts from a dart gun. The grisly attacks made the New York Times. It was around the time someone was poisoning pigeons and squirrels in Gramercy.

Back in 1998, the Times wrote of the Park Slope Pigeon Dart Attacks:
A flock of pigeons roosting in the oak trees along the eastern side of Eighth Avenue, between Fourth and Fifth Streets, has become the target of someone with a blowgun. At least six birds have been seen in recent weeks with metal darts as long as five inches stuck in various parts of their bodies.

''It was like something in a horror film,'' Stacy Griffin, a 44-year-old receptionist, said about one sighting. ''This pigeon was flying around with a dart right through its neck.'' Ms. Griffin lives in the Roosevelt Arms, a six-story apartment building that is shaded by the oaks.
Are the SUV Attacks of 2007 and the Dart Gun Attacks of 1998 related? Does this little stretch of Eighth Avenue harbor a Pigeon Serial Killer who has come out of a long slumber to kill again? Could the child who did this to a pigeon in Prospect Park this summer have gone on a rampage?

In the meantime, both the Sun and amNY report this morning on a proposal in the City Council to outlaw feeding pigeons. The proposal comes from Councilman Simcha Felder, (D-Brooklyn), who will announce a bill today to make it illegal to feed pigeons. A "pigeon czar" will handle all the pigeon-related complaints.

We haven't seen the piles of dead pigeons and we certainly wonder what kind of effort needs to go into running down that many of the birds with a car or SUV, but the allegations of animal cruelty are certainly troubling and we're sure there will be many opinions on a pigeon feeding ban and how it would be enforced--even with a Pigeon Czar.

Pigeon Sign Close Up

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought it impossible to run over a pigeon -- not that I've tried, but I don't exactly swerve when they are in my path.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Park Slope Pigeon Police?

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God help us.
With all the other stuff going on ...
this cuckoo is loony about pigeons.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous johanna said...

Hi. I am the "pigeon advocate" and yes, there is someone on 8th Ave who has been poisoning pigeons. Last week (week of 11/5), I collected 5 - 10 dead pigeons every single morning. What a joy to wake up to. I am not a pigeon fanatic, I am a licensed New York State Wildlife Rehabilitator. I spend months just mending and nursing back to health one injured or sick bird. To find literally piles of dead birds was horribly upsetting. The Catholic School is right there and young girls were walking by, horrified. I was too upset to "keep" the dead birds (ASPCA now says I need them for "proof") but stoic -- placed them all in a garbage back EVERY MORNING last week. I have reported this to the police, to the ASPCA humane law enforcers and to the Dept. of Env Conservation. No, there are no surveillance cameras. That was meant as an attempt to avert further poisoning. When I worked at Conde Nast there was vandalism in the bathrooms. We put up signs saying there were cameras. There were never any cameras. The Methodist Hospital "goons" come on their mini-sweepers and try to run over anyone who leaves bird seed for the flock that have historically lived on that block for decades. Pigeons are homing birds, they don't migrate, and they have been adored by many people in the neighborhood for years. There has to be some compromise, some middle ground. I am not a pigeon fanatic, but an advocate for all animals and a vegan as well. This one man has killed approx 30 pigeons last week and with no consequences to himself. That would seem to me wrong by any account. Anyone who wants to help can email me at fieldjo@aol.com

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loony Lady:
If you're going to feed birds, do it on your own property.
Not on the hospital's, not on the sidewalks [which are city property but still have to be maintained by property owners, hence the sweepers] but your own property.
In a perfect world, I would not mind feeding birds, as I do it on my own property elsewhere and see birds from all over.
Unfortunately, any type of food on a sidewalk in New York attracts rodents. RATS. And that's not called for.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous johanna said...

Feed them on my own property? That is the point. Very few people have the luxury of owning their own property. In addition, public space is -- exactly that -- public. We are not all pigeon hating and those of us who care for the birds have every right to feed them on what is our tax-maintained public space. Not to leave garbage, not to be inconsiderate. Pigeons are public birds, they are property of New Y ork State. It is illegal to kill them or to poison them yet the State does little to nothing to care for them. There are more than a dozen pigeon rescue groups in this town all running out trying to help the sick, injured or dying birds. Why? I don't know. Why does anyone ever think about helping an animal at all? There are people who care for them and so far, we are still a common wealth. That means we pay taxes too. There should be some compromise and/or plan that helps us all live together. It would be descriminatory to only protect "pigeon haters" and tell the other people to feed them on private property when -- ha ha ha -- nobody who actually has to work for a living can afford to own much if anything. But then, I'm also a vegan -- I don't use animals for food, for anything because I believe in their divine right to life, liberty and happiness. And, last time I checked, being vegan was not exactly a popular thing to be. I don't advocate a nimals "taking over" urban areas, but I advocate thinking of better ways for both bird lovers and apparently bird haters to live together. Private property does not trump sentient life forms -- the birds don't know they are either on it or not on it. They are free. Thank God.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is nice that the "pigeon advocate" now seeks a "compromise". Where exactly in the previous advocate missives are the calls for "compromise" and "middle ground"? The advocate has clearly stated that what she is doing is not illegal, and she will continue to feed the pigeons without regard to what anyone says, be it the hospital or her neighbors. The fact that she has the audacity to call out the hospital for sending people out to clean up after her reeks of hypocrisy. Do they not have as much right to clean up the street as she does to sully them? Is it up to her to decide how the public space is used? She puts herself in the place of harassed and tormented victim, yet she is apparently willing to threaten surveillance and "random checks" in order to bully people. Can the advocate point to one occasion at which she has been considerate to her neighbors in this matter? Killing pigeons is wrong, yes, but how can you not care at all what your neighbors think? Feeding pigeons should be illegal, to end this mess once and for all.

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

johanna there are only 3 Commonwealths: VA,PA, and MA. Your logic is the same as those in Yellowstone Park who insist on feeding the bears. As a "Wildlife Rehabilitator" I would expect you to understand that a natural balance needs to be maintained to prevent the animals from getting out of control; feeding the pigeons causes a dependence on humans which denigrates the animal. Feeding results in a population explosion and as an intro eco text would show, die back is the result with the population crashing to an even lower level levels than if the birds had not had human intervention. If I substitute rats for pigeons your whole deportment changes possibly suggesting you of being specieistic. Pigeons are vermin, they are dirty, spread disease, destroy property. Allowing the artificial increase of birds (by feedings) we allow for the survival of weaker impaired birds who would not normally survive and thereby placing a burden on the whole stock; degrading the quality of life for all the birds. There is a loss of quality of life for other animals, including humans by a perpetuation of unsanitary conditions brought on by a population boom & bust cycles. By not feeding them a balance would ensue; some would survive, the healthiest; and a stasis would be achieved. Inevitably fewer birds would mean fewer “poisoning”. It is to be noted that these “poisonings” are the result of a natural phenomena, die backs in a population stressed by natural environmental factors such as cold, reduced food and so on. The pigeons you are collecting are most likely from a population which has expanded and now is experiencing a die back, with a large number of birds dying from starvation or diseases. Kindness is often a good feeling for us but a really foul death to the birds; starvation is very painful with even the survivors suffering. Your idea of “common space”
follows the logic “What’s is mine, is mine and what’s yours is mine again. “Kill no more pigeons than you can eat.”
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Rancid Badger

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only a dead flying rat is a good rat.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im not so sure I would be so thrilled about seeing a flying rat zombie

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Johanna has committed the crime of vandalism in posting her fake ASPCA (hmm..creating fake ASPCA signs may also be a crime) signs on post office, city and private property.

That said, poisoning pigeons is a larger problem that goes beyond pigeons. The poison can be ingested by dogs and also hawks (hawks eat pigeons. There are some hawks in Prospect Park and one hawk has been known to frequent the corner of 8th Ave and 6th (what with all the pigeons there)).

6:25 PM  

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