A recent string of pigeon poaching in New York City has seen thieves netting the birds across Manhattan with the intention of selling them to gun clubs who then kill them for sport. Animal advocates allege that the pigeon poachers are illegally gathering the birds on the streets of NYC before trafficking them out of state.
Multiple cases have been reported and even recorded by Manhattan residents this month. On Jan. 16, Susan and Nicholas Tang, who live in Hell’s Kitchen, witnessed two men poaching pigeons. She told the New York Post she saw the two men spread birdseed on the ground on 10th Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets.
Susan saw the men net around 50 pigeons before they tossed them into a blue Dodge Caravan and drove off. She and her husband took photos of the van and notified authorities. However, the men were quick since Susan said they were in and out in 20 seconds.
“We followed the van as much as we could to try to focus on the license plate, which was obscured by a plastic cover of some sort,” Susan Tang told the New York Post. “The driver was aware he was being followed and was blowing red lights and almost struck a group of pedestrians.”
“It was over and done with from start to finish in 20 seconds,” she added. “It was deeply disturbing. I’m a born and raised New Yorker. I love everything about this city. The pigeons are as New York City as you can possibly get.”
Tang also told the outlet that investigators have tracked down the pigeon thieves. They located the suspects’ van that had “tons of feathers and pigeon poop inside.” She also stated that she and her husband are willing to testify in the case.
Pigeon Poachers Captured On Film, Police Investigating the Incidents
While the Tangs weren’t able to capture the pigeon thieves on videotape, others have been caught with cell phone footage. On Jan. 8, a New Yorker named Mike Chau recorded a man with a net filled with the birds who then stuffed them in the trunk of his car. The incident took place in the Lower East Side on Broome and Norfolk Streets. Chau posted the footage of the encounter on his Instagram account.
“New York or Nowhere (yes that’s a whole flock of pigeons caught in a net being stuffed into the trunk of a car),” Chau wrote on Instagram.
“Damn. Pigeon netter. They sell them to be killed for sport. Next time you see that, call the cops,” local celebrity New York Nico added in the comments.
These aren’t the first cases of pigeon poaching in NYC by any means. In 2008, authorities accused a man in Brooklyn of “pigeon netting,” and selling the birds for $5 to $10 per squab. In 2015, a man in Washington Square Park netted 300 pigeons in broad daylight. The accused sold the birds for live shoots in Pennsylvania.
Pigeon poaching has been illegal in NYC for years, but in 2019, legislation made it a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, poachers can face $1,000 fines and up to a year in jail.
As of now, an NYPD spokesperson shared that the recent incidents are “under investigation by the Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad.”