Homeless People Suspected of Eating Feral Pigeons
The police in Exeter are investigating claims that some homeless people in the city are capturing and eating pigeons. The police were called after market traders in the town centre witnessed two men stuffing the birds into a rucksack.
There is a large population of homeless alcoholics in Exeter and many of them appear to have turned to trapping wild birds. The drunks are a common sight around the town centre and now two men have been seen tempting pigeons to approach them with bird seed. The men then stuffed no less than 14 pigeons into a rucksack and made off with them. The incident occurred at around 4pm when there were plenty of people about.
A female witness reported that she had been horrified by the treatment of the birds. She had wanted to snatch the rucksack away from the men but felt that they were too big for her to challenge.
The RSPCA has been informed about the incident and is investigating activity in Exeter town centre. They feel that it is one particular group of street drinkers who are responsible for the crimes. These drinkers are housed in bed-and-breakfasts, bedsits or small flats and spend all of their available cash on booze. Many of them drink continuously and so don’t have any money to buy food.
The men who had been seen capturing pigeons returned the following day and were clearly attempting to trap more birds but were less successful.
Geese, Swans and Seagulls
A local PCSO has said that there have been reports of geese and swans being captured by the river. In addition, shoppers in Sidwell Street were recently shocked to see a woman - part of a larger group of street drinkers - stamp on the head of a seagull.
Police were called to the scene after several members of the public reported the attack. They also complained about a group of six homeless people being abusive to them. Some people tried to stop the women attacking the seagull but their efforts were in vain as the bird later died from its injuries.
Wild Birds and the Law
All wild birds in the UK are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The trapping and killing of any wild bird can result in a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to £5,000. It is legal to eat birds which have been killed on the roads. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is also an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.
An RSPCA spokesperson said 'If these reports are accurate, this is clearly illegal and we would be deeply concerned about the welfare of these birds as they would have been suffering as a result of this activity"
The RSPCA have called on the public to report any further incidents of cruelty to the police or to call the charity’s emergency line on 0300 1234 999.