Anorak

Anorak | Vagrants in Exeter are eating pigeons – but not everyone’s as happy as they should be

Vagrants in Exeter are eating pigeons – but not everyone’s as happy as they should be

by | 13th, September 2017

Feral pigeons in city centres are vermin. The good news is that homeless people in Exeter have taken it upon themselves to rid the city of these pests by eating them. But not everyone in the city is pleased that vagrants are both cleansing the city and beefing up for the coming winter on a diet of cheap protein.

Devon and Cornwall police are investigating. Police support community officer (PCSO) Sarah Giles has tweeted: “While doing the round of #sidwell street #exeter I have had news of #pigeons being captured for food. We will be looking into this.” Why? What crime has been committed?  Police do say it could be a case of causing the animals “unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act 2006”.

But are wild pigeons, aka rock doves, protected? The Act states:

An animal is a “protected animal” for the purposes of this Act if—
(a) it is of a kind which is commonly domesticated in the British Islands,
(b) it is under the control of man whether on a permanent or temporary basis, or
(c) it is not living in a wild state.

Pigeons are covered by section (a) but legitimate pest control is not regarded as causing unnecessary suffering. All wild birds in the UK are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. And according to the BBC, “feral pigeons can legally be shot”. But what about bagged and then offed with, say, a full can of Tenants Super to the head before being eaten?

On the forums of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, we’re told, “Feral (urban) pigeons are legal game with an air rifle.” Indeed, if you hold a ‘General License’ you can kill pigeons, both wood pigeons and feral birds. Government advice  runs: “You must still follow animal welfare laws and kill birds in a quick and humane manner. You can eat birds killed under this licence, but you can’t sell any for human consumption other than woodpigeons.” And you can use a cage trap.

Melissa Gill of Natural England, which oversees the General Licenses in England adds: “The licensee is at fault if he sells on the meat of a bird he has killed under licence – it is a condition of the licence which he is granted that he does not do that… It would not be illegal to eat it, so long as the individual could prove that they had not killed it and had discovered it dead.”

The laws on eating a feral pigeon are a tad confused. And if you eat them, they don’t suffer as a species. Trafford Council notes:

…for most pigeon problems, lethal methods are totally ineffective. They simply reduce competition for food and shelter, and the remaining birds increase their breeding rates to compensate. Although there is an immediate decrease, numbers soon recover, resulting in an endless cycle of killing and re-population

Forget GM crops. Pigeons are the answer to world hunger.

One local trader at Exeter’s Sidwell Street Market goes on the record. She says the pigeon fanciers seduce the birds with seed and stuff them in a sack. PCSO Giles then puts the vermin catching in context. “Many are alcoholics [the vagrants; not the pigeons], who to keep a certain consumption level, will drink continuously… now we’re eating pigeons, now we’re killing seagulls. It escalates.”

Good. If the vagrants can be directed towards rats, mice and cockroaches, Exeter may become the cleanest city in the land.

PS: On the Exeter City Council website, we read:

Sidwell Street market…

Please note, we are unable to accept applications from catering vans or fast food lines although we do have a limited number of pitches available for unusual street food.

Forget the sack and lighter fluid, lads. It’s a stall you need. Make ready with the retro pigeon a la mode, Spingo. The hipsters will come flocking.



Posted: 13th, September 2017 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink