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Uptown Alderman Wants To Make It A Crime To Feed Pigeons

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Scores of pigeons swarm to pick up potato chip crumbs outside the Wilson stop on the CTA Red Line. (Credit: CBS)

Scores of pigeons swarm to pick up potato chip crumbs outside the Wilson stop on the CTA Red Line. (Credit: CBS)

Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Pigeons; they’re tolerated at best, hated at worst. Now, one Chicago alderman wants to make it a crime to feed pigeons.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports some people are calling the proposal by Ald. James Cappleman (46th) a bird-brained idea.

Uptown, downtown – pigeons are everywhere in Chicago.

Thursday morning, Barb Wambach was visiting the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza – where dozens of pigeons gather every day, keeping warm by the eternal flame – when she got an unpleasant surprise dropped on the boot-shaped mug she was holding.

“I moved my cup, and it felt like something plopped in it,” Wambach said. After a group of pigeons flew overhead, she found a splattering of bird droppings on her mug.

It’s that threat to everyday living, that fear of walking under a viaduct, the scourge of flying birds that Cappleman wants to eradicate.

He has introduced an ordinance that would significantly increase the penalties for feeding pigeons – making it a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Cappleman wasn’t available Thursday to discuss his proposal, but he told other aldermen he’s tired of encountering a scene from a Hitchcock movie every time he walks to the Wilson station on the CTA Red Line.

Scores – if not hundreds – of the birds perch at the station, just waiting to be fed. A huge flock of them swarmed down to the sidewalk Thursday afternoon to descend on some potato chip crumbs like hunters on prey.

“They’re a nuisance. They’re everywhere. You know, you could stand there waiting on the bus and they’re all over your feet,” Bobby Williams said outside the Wilson stop. “I think it should be illegal to feed them.”

It’s already a city code violation to feed pigeons – as signs at the Wilson stop indicate – punishable by a fine of up to $500. Cappleman’s proposal would double the maximum fine and add the possibility of up to six months in jail.

“They’re gonna arrest someone for feeding a bird?” Lily Norton said. “That’s kind of ridiculous.”

“It’s silly. He should be focusing on other problems,” Oliver Guyton said. “Like the budget and all that type of stuff that aldermen do.”

In May, Cappleman was assaulted by a woman in Uptown, after he started sweeping away the breadcrumbs she had spread on the ground for pigeons near Broadway and Wilson Avenue.

At the time, the alderman said the area is littered with breadcrumbs every day and has a serious pigeon problem. He has also said the breadcrumbs people leave for the birds could attract rats, too, so his staff regularly cleans up breadcrumbs left on the streets.

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