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Pigeons Victimized In Recent Trappings

—Photo courtesy Birdman and Paul DeWitt FRIENDS. “Birdman” Dan Lubniewski lovingly feeds a few of his favorite Long Beach pigeons. The birds gather around him and eat seeds out of his hands.

October 20, 2010

By Ashleigh Oldland
Staff Writer

In response to two recent incidents of illegal pigeon trapping, Animal Care Services is asking people to report any traps they find in public spaces.

“All animals have to be treated the same,” said John Keisler, Animal Care Services bureau manager. “Healthy wild animals should be left alone, and we take that seriously… There is a strong connection between the way we treat our animals and the way we treat each other.”

The two latest reported incidents of pigeon trapping occurred Aug. 11 and Sept. 12. The two cases are considered unrelated, Keisler said. In both cases, Animal Care Services was able to intervene and stop the trapping.

Pigeon trappers can be cited and ordered to cease and desist. Additionally, the caught birds are set free and traps can be confiscated as evidence.

Although many people view pigeons as pests, the birds have at least one strong advocate in Long Beach: “Birdman” Dan Lubniewski. He has been rescuing the birds for five years, removing string from their tangled feet or taking severely injured or sick pigeons to bird aviaries for help.

“Somebody had to help them, and no one else would,” he said.

Lubniewski, a former U.S. Marine who first befriended a pigeon while he was living on the streets of Long Beach, said pigeons have a bad reputation even though they are friendly, wonderful birds.

“I think all the hate boils down to one word: poop,” he said. “But they do a lot of good for the city and clean a lot of stuff off the street.”

The self-proclaimed Birdman said he has seen traps set up in Long Beach, which he reported to Animal Care Services. He believes some of the birds he “was closest to” at the McDonald’s located on Seventh Street and Long Beach Boulevard were taken by trappers.

“Those were my little friends,” Lubniewski said.

Trapped pigeons can be sold to pet stores, feed stores or for shooting practice, Keisler said, but he added that he is unaware of any businesses in Long Beach that would buy the animals.

There are some cases where pigeon trapping is not illegal, such as in a private yard, Keisler said. Whether in private or public areas, the birds cannot be left unattended or abused.

“If somebody has a pigeon coop, there are specific required dimensions of the coop,” he said. “If somebody has pigeons and they are watered and fed and kept in the back yard, that is fine. There is no exception to the basic standards of humane treatment of animals.”

Any activity involving the trapping or taking of wild animals from public property should be reported to animalcare@longbeach.gov.

If activity is in progress, call 570-PETS (during business hours) or 9-1-1 (after business hours).


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