It’s like a scene for the Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film Birds. Only this time, the people are attacking the birds. Pigeon poachers have been rounding up birds in NYC parks and high-tailing it off to parts unknown with truckloads of the urban pests. City Health Department Commissioner Thomas Frieden said some rustlers are selling the birds for $5 to $10 each to out-of-state pigeon shoots. The pigeon shoots may be legal, but absconding with the city’s ubiquitous park dwellers and transporting them across state lines without a permit isn’t.
In the early-morning hours, men spread seed on city park pavements and uninhabited streets to lure the pigeons. As dozens come to feed, the men throw large nets over the cooing throng, toss the whole flailing mass into the back of a truck and screech off. The Health Department, in concert with several state and local agencies, has been trying to head the rustlers off at the pass, so far without success.
Birders and the New York Bird Club are upset, and some have formed their own posse to track down the bird-nappers. “We’ve followed the netters to a warehouse in Queens that sells poultry,” said one bird advocate. “We’re still trying to pull together evidence.” Commissioner Frieden urges any citizen observing the illegal netting of pigeons to report details by calling 311.