Washington Square Park-goers may have noticed that the flock of pigeons that usually floods the green space is suddenly much smaller. According to the Washington Square Park Blog, close to 300 pigeons were netted and captured late last month in broad daylight. Bowery Boogie reports that the kidnapping isn’t an isolated event, and that the stolen pigeons will be transported to Pennsylvania and sold for hunting events where they will have their wings clipped and be launched into the air and shot at. While the birds may have been a nuisance to some, others, like artist and local Tina Trachtenberg, are mourning their loss.
Mass pigeon abductions have occurred in parks across New York City over the past ten years, with little or no action taken by local police. The scene usually involves a van pulling up to a large group of pigeons, and men getting out to throw birdseed. During the feeding frenzy, a large net is thrown, and the birds are grabbed and thrown into the van in a huge pile. The van then heads for shooting events where the pigeons have their wings clipped, and are then placed in small cages with no food or water for days. Then comes the most barbaric part–the dehydrated birds are loaded into compression devices and shot into the air as living targets. Without their wings, they are unable to fly, and either die from gun wounds or the force of falling to the ground.
Some parkgoers may rejoice at the removal of the pesky pigeons, but the harmless animals are well-loved by many. Artist Tina Trachtenberg is one of these pigeon advocates, and has created a moving memorial right in the park, which includes hand-made felt replica sculptures she crafts herself.
The 250 to 300 pigeons captured last month are thought to bring in $2-3 a piece, making it a very profitable venture for the abductors. The NYPD says it is reviewing the incident.