Pigeon-Napping in Uptown Remains a Mystery
UPTOWN — Despite the hooplah spurred by an unidentified Indiana farmer hauling dozens of pigeons across state lines to the Hoosier State, it doesn't look like the city or many Uptown residents will miss the birds.
Last week, a woman told CBS Chicago that she saw two men in a pickup truck show up in the 4700 block of North Broadway, capture 60 to 70 pigeons in a net and drive off.
Uptown residents like 24-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago student Biola Bakare said she wouldn't miss the birds.
"The farmer should take them all away," she said.
Where the birds ended up, however, is somewhat of a mystery. Nobody other than the unidentified farmer seems to know the fate of the pigeons.
The farmer reached out to Ald. James Cappleman (46th) in mid-December after catching a whiff of media coverage about the alderman's anti-pigeon efforts in City Hall and Uptown, according to the 46th Ward office.
The farmer, who Cappleman and staff have declined to name, wanted to know if it would be legal for him to come and take pigeons from Uptown and haul them back across state lines. The farmer did not say for what purpose.
But Cappleman said it would be just fine, his office said.
“An Indiana farmer contacted us and offered to capture and take pigeons to his farm,” Cappleman chief of staff Tressa Feher said in a statement. “He wanted them alive.”
Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman Phil Bloom said it's a mystery to him, too.
"We don't know enough about it to know what the purpose would be for anybody to bring pigeons into the state," Bloom said.
Importing live pigeons to be released "for any purpose" is illegal and would require a state permit. The agency has not issued such a permit "in the last 10 years and perhaps beyond that," Bloom said.
Bringing the birds in for personal consumption is legal, even though it may sound a bit unappetizing.
Bloom said investigators with his agency are looking into the matter to see if there were any violations of the law, but there was no indication Friday that they had any idea who the farmer is, or what his plans might be.
Cappleman seems to be gaining a reputation as an anti-pigeon crusader. He is the co-sponsor of a city ordinance that would increase fines and include the possibility of jail time for pigeon feeders. Cappleman said in a release about the ordinance that his "priorities as alderman are economic development and public safety."
"The excessive feeding of pigeons in the 46th Ward has a detrimental impact on both," he said. "Businesses, residents and visitors to the ward are impacted by the damage that is done to their property and the thousands of pigeons that create an unwelcoming and unsanitary environment on our streets and sidewalks."
A neighborhood woman known as "the pigeon lady," whose name is actually Young Kang, allegedly attacked Cappleman in May 2012 after he swept away breadcrumbs on the sidewalk near his Uptown ward office.