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Cappleman Seeks to Pluck Uptown Pigeon Feeders

By Ted Cox | December 12, 2012 3:36pm | Updated on December 12, 2012 7:01pm

CITY HALL — Uptown's alderman is out to quash pigeon feeding in the area by doubling fines to $1,000.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said after Wednesday's City Council meeting that he's preparing a new ordinance that greatly stiffens fines for feeding pigeons to $1,000 and includes jail sentences of up to 30 days.

Cappleman said the amended ordinance targets two repeat offenders in the Uptown area: Ed Gross and Young Kang, a woman known on local blogs as "the pigeon lady."

"We're not talking about the old woman who likes to go to the park and feed the squirrels and pigeons," Cappleman said. "We're talking about people who have been arrested time and time again for dumping three or four pounds of bread at a time four times a day. We're talking about extremists, and the intent of this ordinance is to go after these extremists."

According to Cappleman, the two have been arrested before for feeding pigeons near the Wilson "L" stop on the Red Line, where it's posted that feeding the birds can prompt a $500 fine.

"Within hours of being released from jail, they get back in their car with a 50-pound bag of rice, and they have mini loaves of bread, and they just go their route," he said. He said they go from morning to night feeding birds at various locations seven days a week. "There's no stopping to it," he added.

Cappleman has run afoul of Kang before. He filed assault charges against her in May after he said she attacked him when he was sweeping up breadcrumbs near his ward office at Wilson and Broadway.

Cappleman insisted it wasn't personal, but a genuine public nuisance. He said that within the vertical sign outside the Aragon Ballroom, "there was up to eight feet of pigeon guano. So this is not just harmless people just feeding the pigeons. We're talking extremists here. That's what we're going after."

Cappleman's amended legislation adds pigeon feeding to a zoning ordinance that bans pigeon coops in residential areas and keeping pigeons as pets. That ordinance allows for prison sentences of up to six months, but Cappleman said he thought the maximum sentence for feeding pigeons should be 30 days. He hopes to present the ordinance formally next month and have it approved in February.